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Gradual return: Big banks see more than half of staff in office in third quarter

Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Buildings are seen in the Canary Wharf business district, as a man cycles along a path, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London

By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Global financial institutions plan to have more than half of staff back in offices during the third quarter, up from 10%-15% now, but none are envisaging a full return anytime soon, the head of Danish services group ISS said on Thursday.

ISS provides services ranging from call centres to office cleaning, catering and security to more than 200,000 companies in 60 countries, including UBS and Deutsche Telekom.

"Many of our customers in banking, consulting and service industries are now very eager to get employees back to the office," Chief Executive Jacob Aarup-Andersen said in an interview.

"They tell us about lack of innovation, less engagement among employees working from home and the corporate culture suffering," he said.

But while global banking customers in general expect to have more than 50% of employees back on site during the third quarter, none of ISS' customers are yet speaking about returning 100% of the workforce to offices, Aarup-Andersen said.

HSBC said this week it planned to nearly halve its office space globally in a sign the pandemic could mean permanent changes to working patterns, as companies prepare to reduce office space and allow employees more flexibility in working from home.

Aarup-Andersen said earlier he expected office space globally to shrink by 10%-15% over the next three years.

ISS on Thursday said sales fell 10% last year to 69.8 billion Danish crowns ($11.5 billion), hit by weakness in catering, retail and hotel services.

($1 = 6.0931 Danish crowns)

(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen. Editing by Mark Potter)