Working from home (or not) at HSBC

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The chief exec of HSBC says half the bank's Canary Wharf workforce will work from home by 2014. Slim chance any will be investment bankers.

Home to 8,000 people, HSBC's global HQ houses not only its corporate, investment banking and markets business, but also operational staff for the UK retail bank and for the group as a whole.

A spokesman for the bank tells us it's this operational contingent that's most likely to be working in the spare room in seven years' time: "It's hard to see how traders can work from home."

For the moment, however, nothing is being ruled out. HSBC chief exec Michael Geoghegan has reportedly asked the heads of each business area to establish the viability of homeworking for their staff - corporate, investment banking and markets people included.

HSBC could take a lead from Canary Wharf neighbour Lehman Brothers, which recently hosted a conference on flexible working and apparently has various traders and other front-office staff working from home - although just how many is unclear.

Ann Marie Salamy, a member of Lehman's diversity and inclusion team, says there can be business advantages to working from home - particularly when your offices are in Canary Wharf. "When people in the investment banking division attend client meetings in the West End, it often saves time for them to work at home afterwards rather than travelling all the way back in."

Stuart Gulliver, head of HSBC's corporate, investment banking and markets division, may want to bear this mind. The downside, however, is that homeworkers find it easier to look for other jobs - not good in the case of HSBC, which is struggling to retain its corporate financiers as it is.

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