UBS CEO Says Second Half Could See Most Staff Back to Office

UBS Group AG Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers said that the majority of the bank’s staff could be back in offices by the second half of this year, though the future pattern for collaboration will probably be a mix of on-site and home working.

“We’ve all learned from the pandemic that we can work from home and work from the office, and it will always be a combination going forward,” Hamers said in an interview in Zurich Tuesday after the lender reported a surprise $774 million hit from the meltdown of family office Archegos Capital Management. “We are continuously decreasing our floor space.”

As progress in vaccinations globally brings hope of an end to the pandemic, investment banks are firming up plans that combine virtual and in-person work and rethinking their needs for expensive offices. UBS has said that as many as a third of its nearly 72,000 employees across 50 countries could do their jobs remotely on a permanent basis.

“On a team level, you have to decide,” Hamers said, stressing that certain tasks like brainstorming will require physical presence. Once those are done, “then you work back home and execute some of the things you agreed.”

Sabine Keller-Busse, head of personal and corporate banking, said last year that for some roles, such as bankers preparing an initial public offering, being physically present will remain important, while advisory relationships with wealthy clients can continue virtually.

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