LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Nationwide Building Society and Santander UK have become the latest banks to take an axe to their office space, cementing remote working arrangements put in place during the COVID-19 crisis.
Nationwide has told all its 13,000 office-based staff to work from anywhere in the country.
The lender said on Thursday it will not renew the leases on three of its offices in its hometown of Swindon in the southwest of England but will retain its headquarters there along with other regional hubs.
Santander UK said it will close four offices in Bootle, Newcastle, London Portman House and Manchester Deansgate and switch the location of its headquarters from London to Milton Keynes.
The bank also said it would close 111 branches by August, adding that a long term shift towards mobile and online banking accelerated by the pandemic had prompted the decision.
Around 5,000 staff based at closing office sites would be offered new working arrangements, combining working from home with access to local collaboration spaces, the bank said.
The moves to slash office space are a further sign of how companies are taking advantage of remote working to cut overhead.
Nationwide’s decision to let its staff work anywhere goes further than British banks such as HSBC and Lloyds, which have said they will cut office space but are likely still to require staff to come in on some days.
The bellwether mortgage lender said it will continue to invest in offices by installing more collaboration spaces, with fewer traditional meeting rooms and well-being measures such as quiet areas.
Branch-based staff will still work in those locations, Nationwide said, with some of their formerly office-bound peers able to join them.
Britain’s second-biggest provider of home loans, Nationwide competes with high street banking rivals but unlike them is owned by its customers.
The lender last year offered redundancy packages to around 200 staff with a view to around 100 accepting them, Reuters reported, as it seeks to reduce costs.
(Reporting by Lawrence White and Iain Withers; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Kim Coghill)