Hong Kong banks keep remote working options open as third Covid wave strikes city

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Hong Kong banks keep remote working options open as third Covid wave strikes city

Most banks in Hong Kong now have at least half of their employees based on-site, although they are still allowing remote working as fears escalate about a third wave of Covid-19 infections in the city.

HSBC let all employees return to the office on 22 June, following the 16 June announcement that Hong Kong is further relaxing its social distancing laws. But working from home “continues to be an option” for those who want it for personal or family reasons, says an HSBC spokesperson.

Similarly, on 29 June, Goldman “removed all rotation schedules” for staff and is now “operating in Hong Kong as normal”, says a spokesperson, adding that the bank has a range of Covid-19 measures in place, such as mandatory wearing of masks, limits on the number of people in meeting rooms and elevators, and widely available hand sanitisers.

We understand that just over 60% of UBS’s Hong Kong workforce is back in the office, while the figure for Nomura is about 75%, including most of its front-office people. Nomura’s corporate functions are splitting time between the office and home. The Japanese bank continues to provide optional remote working for employees who are more comfortable WFH.

Citi has around half of its Hong Kong staff on its premises, with “most teams working on A/B shifts”, says a spokesperson. About 90% of its employees are set up for WFH if necessary.

Banks are wise to remain flexible about remote working policies, in case the Hong Kong government decides to tighten social distancing laws again. The city is now in its third wave of Covid-19 infections, health officials warned yesterday as nine of 14 cases confirmed on Tuesday were found to be local and without recent travel history.

Societe General has ended its split-team and segregated office area arrangements for now, but its WFH measures (up to two days per week) are still in place to “reduce any risk of contamination in the offices”, says a spokesperson. The bank continues to monitor the Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong, and its policies are “agile and reversible” so that it can “adapt to the evolution of the pandemic at any time,” he adds.

We understand that the percentage of Deutsche bank staff returning to the office has increased gradually over the past few weeks, but the firm still has business continuity plans in place and is maintaining split operations to ensure sufficient coverage of critical functions.

At JP Morgan, the number of employees who are allowed to return to the office is being “closely managed to align with social distancing guidelines in the workspace”, says a spokesperson.

Photo by XPS on Unsplash

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