Office space under review at three-quarters of financial firms

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Almost three-quarters of financial services firms are reviewing their office space requirements, with many seeking to redefine their use.

This is particularly true of insurance companies, finance houses and banking firms, according to the quarterly CBI/PwC Financial Services Survey, many of whom have seen a greater shift towards remote working.

Most of this office space review has been driven by a desire to reconfigure or redesign existing office space, say 67% of firms, while 62% want to reduce their office premises.

“As occupiers of commercial real estate across the FS sector pragmatically reassess their future space requirements to comply with government advice and meet changing work practices, demand and usage shifts will most certainly have significant impacts to the investors who own the spaces they occupy,” the report says.

Almost nine in 10 of the 133 financial services firms polled say the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a greater shift towards remote working, and almost half say more than 90% of their workers could do their job without being in the office.

Among the financial services firms that have been encouraging more staff to work from home are JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and investment management firm Schroders.

The report urges landlords to engage with tenants to reach agreements around lease and payment terms, as the pandemic continues to affect business performance and office usage.

Financial services firms have also recognised the importance of workforce upskilling as technology changes the way they operate, but the report notes that many needed to work towards harnessing the full potential of artificial intelligence, cloud adoption and analytics and implement more effective safeguards against cyber threats.

“By becoming more agile, informed and operationally resilient, the front runners will be better equipped to steer through disruption and capitalise on the opportunities ahead,” it adds.

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