Barclays boss Jes Staley has said he wants employees working from home during the pandemic to return to the office “over time”.
“It’s important to bring people together in physical concentrations,” he told Bloomberg TV.
He said 60,000 Barclays staff were working “from their kitchen tables,” but pointed out that another 20,000 were in offices, branches and call centers.
In April, Mr Staley said offices in big cities “may be a thing of the past”.
In recent years, banks around the world have moved staff away from the expensive skyscrapers of financial centers, but Barclays and its rivals still have busy offices in places like Canary Wharf in London.
In his final remarks, Mr Staley appeared to question the idea of abandoning these hubs, saying: “We also have a responsibility to places like Canary Wharf, like Manchester, like Glasgow. ”
He added: “We want our people to come together, to make sure that we ensure that our culture and our controls evolve, and I think that will happen over time. “
The fear of bad debts
Mr Staley’s comments are in line with the government’s plans to encourage more people to return to their workplaces from next month, in what Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes will be a “meaningful return to the workplace. normality ”by Christmas.
However, not all major banks share the same opinion. Last week, NatWest told more than 50,000 employees in a memo that they could continue working from home until next year.
The Barclays boss spoke out after the bank reported a 58% drop in pre-tax profits to £ 1.3bn for the first half of this year, from £ 3bn for the same period in 2019.
He said he had set aside £ 1.6bn in the second quarter of the year to cover the cost of defaulting on loans, largely due to the coronavirus crisis. This brought its total bad debt provisions to £ 3.7 billion for the first half of the year.
Its shares were down 2.6% in Wednesday morning trading.
“These results are not exactly unexpected, but they paint a pretty dismal picture of the UK economy nonetheless – especially if you are a business owner,” said Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
“Given the context, a sharp increase in bad debt provisions during the half-year was to be expected – and Barclays now expects the disruptions to drag well beyond 2020.”