(Bloomberg)—Barclays Plc will begin returning about 700 staff to offices in the U.K., U.S. and India starting in July, as it joins global rivals in easing the home-working policies introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.
The London-based bank told staff in a memo on Monday that the employees who will go back over the summer are mostly traders and others who can’t work from home, and they comprise less than 1% of global headcount, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The rest of its employees will work from home at least until the end of September, the people said. A spokesman at Barclays declined to comment.
Financial hubs in Europe and the U.S. are getting ready to welcome workers in the next few months, after offices were closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. They follow Hong Kong, where some firms have reopened their buildings to employees. Most banks across the globe have crafted measures including restricted access to elevators and kitchens, one-way staircases, and distribution of masks and other protective equipment to employees.
Barclays has 80,800 employees globally, with over 40% of its personnel based in the U.K. During the pandemic, the bank has kept a skeleton of traders at its corporate and investment bank in London and New York. July’s returnees will be the first wave of workers who are being asked to go back as the bank follows a phased-return plan.
Not all banks will return from lockdown in the same way and some are more cautious than others. Citigroup Inc. has started bringing back a portion of its employees to its London office in Canary Wharf this week. The U.S. lender asked less than 10% of its 5,000 London staff to return, breaking with a raft of competitors planning to make remote operations permanent for many staff.
Firms such as Deutsche Bank AG’s asset management unit, DWS Group, will keep employees in London, New York City and Chicago at home for the time being while Bank of New York Mellon Corp. said it’s planning to make remote operations permanent for many staff.
Barclays Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley said in April that headquarters built to house thousands of staff might be a “thing of the past” if social distancing means only two people can take an elevator at a time. The American CEO also suggested that investment bankers might work from local branches instead.
For bankers that do return to the office, they are stepping into a new normal of face masks, desk shields and closed canteens. In Hong Kong, Citigroup is planning to install plastic partitions in some work stations as it ramps up office staff. At Bank of China’s Beijing hub, the staff kitchen is closed, forcing employees to take turns getting boxed lunches for their colleagues.
Even as the lockdowns have eased, the return hasn’t been straightforward in that part of the world: Just weeks after thousands of bank staff returned to their desks in Hong Kong, lenders from HSBC Holdings Plc to UBS Group AG warned of transport disruptions that may force them back to their home offices.
To contact the reporters on this story: Luca Casiraghi in London at [email protected];
Stefania Spezzati in London at [email protected].
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ambereen Choudhury at [email protected]
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