Deutsche Bank Joins Firms Weighing Less Time at the Office

The debate about the future of the office is drifting toward a firm conclusion: workers will spend more of their weekdays away from it.

With the end of U.K. lockdowns in sight, Deutsche Bank AG is now considering letting British staff work from home between one and three days a week. Standard Life Aberdeen Plc expects workers will spend a similar amount of time at home and is reshaping offices to meet such demands, the fund manager said Tuesday.

The shift toward a permanent home-office split was further quantified on Tuesday by IWG Plc, the world’s largest flexible office landlord. It said that hybrid working had sparked a boom in large companies seeking more flexible access to sites across its 3,300 locations.

Requiring staff to return to the office for five days a week “feels to me a little bit like a wasted opportunity,” Tiina Lee, Deutsche Bank’s U.K. chief executive officer, said in a Bloomberg TV interview on Monday. Staff feedback indicates they want to work from home at least one to three days a week and “that is something that we’re looking to explore.”

Lee also said that Deutsche Bank will differentiate its remote working policies according to roles and indicated that traders may have fewer work-from-home days than other staff.

Germany’s largest lender has been discussing a new policy for remote work for months as it seeks to cut back on real estate costs while adapting to changed staff attitudes. Bloomberg previously reported that the bank may allow staff to work from home two days a week.

‘Extreme Makeover’

SLA has “been conducting an extreme makeover” of its main office in London and has revamped its Edinburgh headquarters, Chief Executive Stephen Bird said on a call with reporters Tuesday. “We have reconfigured it for hybrid working. After such a long period of working from home we need to really attract our employees back into the offices, but not on a full time basis.”

The firm has switched its focus to open plan offices, which will see more meeting areas for brain storming, Bird said.

TP ICAP CEO Nicolas Breteau said on an earnings call Tuesday that his firm is implementing a hybrid model where back-office staff could work from home up to two days a week, although he also said the company expects all of its brokers to return to the office when it is safe to do so.

Japan’s Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. signed a corporate occupier deal that will allow its 300,000 staff to access any of IWG’s global sites, the office provider’s biggest such deal yet, IWG said Tuesday.

Demand for office space has rebounded fastest in smaller towns and cities that are closer to where people live, IWG Chief Executive Officer Mark Dixon said in a phone interview. That’s because workers are keen to avoid a full-time return to costly, lengthy and potentially unsafe commutes.

“The problem in big cities is really commute related,” Dixon said. “That’s what will come through after this is over, and that’s what makes hybrid and flexible working so attractive.”

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