The finance industry was one of the hardest hit by COVID, with work from home requirements forcing bankers into a totally new type of trade. 

Banks, and particularly investment banking, is one of the last industries to hold out for the more formal dress code. Swapping their usual dark suits and high paced corporate schedules for meetings conducted from the sofa was a change that some in the industry simply couldn’t get used to.

As the pandemic starts to ease both abroad and in South Africa, large banks are rethinking their strategies as they return to their commercial premises, introducing half-day Fridays and a more flexible dress code. 

From trading floor to living room floor – and back again

The financial industry oversees trillions of dollars in transactions every year, and the imposing corporate headquarters of well-known banks have always been the places where these lucrative deals are structured and executed. 

In 2020, the industry suddenly had to adapt rapidly to work from home arrangements which saw up to 90% of some bank employees working remotely.

Back to work for commercial property tenants and agents

While some of the world’s major financial companies have indicated that they will pursue a blended model – with team members choosing to work from home some days of the week – the industry’s overall strategy is firmly rooted in the desire to return to the office as soon as possible. 

This is excellent news for the real estate industry and looks set to be one of the biggest commercial space property trends in 2021. 

Here’s what some of the world’s biggest banks and trading houses have planned for the current business year and beyond.

  • JP Morgan Chase and Company managed to weather the recent UK lockdown by allowing up to 90% of their workforce to avoid the office altogether and carry out their tasks from home. The bank now plans to reopen its premises and phase in a return to the office. 
  • Goldman Sachs, whose CEO has been pessimistic about remote working from the start, is raring to go with its plans to reopen premises and go back to business as usual. The group invested in commercial real estate space to accommodate 5 000 workers in 2019 and intends to phase out remote working as soon as it’s safe to do so. 
  • PWC has adopted a hybrid model for its thousands of accounting and auditing staff, encouraging them to spend between 40% and 60% of their time at the office or on-site with clients. The company has introduced several incentives and easing-in programmes including half-day Fridays to help team members get used to the experience of being back at work. 

Back to the office – SA set to follow suit 

With the vaccine rollout in South Africa gathering steam in the first quarter of 2021, businesses across the country are weighing up their options as they plan to restart operations at their commercial premises. 

If remote working has proven to be a difficult adjustment, now may be the ideal time to secure an office space in Cape Town. Contact our team today and we’ll help you in your search for the ideal premises.