HSBC Pauses Office Return Plans As U.K. Advises Work From Home

(Bloomberg) — HSBC Holdings Plc hit pause on efforts to return workers to its U.K. offices after the government urged people to work from home to arrest a surge in virus cases and prevent another nationwide lockdown.

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A sign sits on the HSBC Holdings Plc headquarters office building in the Canary Wharf business, financial and shopping district of London, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. After a pause during lockdown, lenders from Citigroup Inc. to HSBC Holdings Plc have restarted cuts, taking gross losses announced this year to a combined 63,785 jobs, according to a Bloomberg analysis of filings.

The U.K. bank said it will stop the return of phase one teams to its offices, according to a memo Tuesday seen by Bloomberg News. Critical workers supporting customers in branches and a small number of open offices will continue to do so while the balance of staff will remain working from home.

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HSBC follows Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in changing its advice to staff after Boris Johnson made a televised plea to the nation to take action now to help stem a rising rate of infections in the U.K that threatens more deaths and hospitalizations.

HSBC also said that requests to enter the office for one-off reasons like picking up equipment would no longer be allowed except in ‘exceptional circumstances’ and pilot programs to determine how to hold events like strategy sessions and planning days would be paused ‘until conditions improve.’

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©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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