HSBC is moving more than 1,200 staff in the UK to permanent working from home contracts, marking yet another company making major changes to its working patterns post-pandemic.
Around 70 per cent of the bank’s 1,800 call centre staff based across England, Wales and Scotland have volunteered to never return to the office, employment union Unite said.
A HSBC UK spokesman confirmed that it was in discussions with call centre colleagues on future working arrangements.
“We are in discussions with contact centre colleagues who serve HSBC UK retail customers about ways that we can offer flexibility on work location while ensuring the way we work meets our customers’ needs. These discussions are continuing,” they said.
Unite said HSBC offered staff a £300 per year working from home top-up payment to cover additional expenses such as higher heating and electricity bills.
Dominic Hook, the union’s national officer, said the contract changes for the 70 per cent opting in were being finalised with teams, with those taking it up expected only to come in to HSBC offices for training.
A quarter of staff declined the offer as they wanted to work in the office at least some of the time, while just five per cent preferred to go back to the office permanently.
HSBC has cut office space in the UK, in part because of staff working from home. It is also in the process of its ‘pivot to Asia’, which will see a number of senior executives move from London to Hong Kong.
Hook said the union was broadly supportive of the change as it was voluntary, but warned other banks against forcing staff to stay at home if they did not want to and to ensure staff did not feel isolated and were properly supported.
“HSBC are at the forefront of this,” Hook said. “If it’s genuinely voluntary and people’s rights are protected then that’s fine, but people need to go in with their eyes wide open.
“After a year, it may not seem that bad, but after five it might feel different.”