Sydney HQ Opens for National Australia Bank on Hybrid Work Plan

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National Australia Bank is opening a new headquarters in Sydney, even as it aims to consolidate its workspace longer term to match more flexible work arrangements for its 31,000 staff around the country.

The move by Australia’s third-biggest bank comes amid a push from Wall Street firms to get more of their workers back into the office, and as lenders around the world try to figure out new ways to run their businesses after pandemic-driven lockdowns forced people to get used to doing their jobs from home.

Sydney HQ Opens for National Australia Bank on Hybrid Work Plan

National Australia’s new office, above a major transit hub in downtown Sydney, features more open lounge spaces where people can gather, curved desktop screens and Zoom video conferencing facilities in meeting rooms. It will house more than 2,000 staff and desk space will be allocated through a booking system to ensure appropriate social distancing. The bank is leasing the space from developer Brookfield Property Partners.

“Hybrid working is the new normal for most of us with more flexibility in how we work,” said Susan Ferrier, in charge of people and culture at National Australia. Offices “remain crucial for collaboration and problem solving, as well as adding to the vibrant culture” of cities, she said.

Sydney HQ Opens for National Australia Bank on Hybrid Work Plan

The bank, based in Melbourne, has been progressively bringing more staff back into its offices since the height of the pandemic. Its office capacity is running at an average 42%, though recently touched as high as 92%, according to National Australia.

“We have seen quite a change in how our colleagues at work want to work,” National Australia Chief Executive Officer Ross McEwan said earlier this month. “It’s essential for a bank to have our colleagues together but it’s certainly changing from five days a week down to probably two or three days a week. And that will mean over time we will need less space.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co. last month became the first major U.S. bank to mandate a return to offices for its workforce, saying that it expects all U.S.-based employees to come into the office on a “consistent rotational schedule” by early July. The lender is also among a group of banks globally to say they’ll be needing less office space in future.

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