I’m starting to wonder if the CEO of Barclays Bank is an exceedingly unusual man – someone who doesn’t see the future but is able to recognise when it is upon us. Today (April 29), Jes Staley said that the pandemic could permanently change the way banks do business and “the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past”.
Mr Staley’s comments are the first significant acknowledgement from a corporate leader that business will have to change the way it does things. In the weeks of lockdown, Barclays Bank, like other big companies, has had most of its staff work from home or backup sites. Now, Mr Staley says, Barclays will not fully revert to its pre-pandemic work routine.
That makes financial sense. Barclays has reported a fall in first-quarter profits. Its only hope would probably be to give up some of its big expensive offices.