Barclays’ boss supports Boris Johnson’s back-to-work push

Boris Johnson’s push to encourage more workers to physically return to their desks in August received a boost today as the boss of Barclays bank said he wants his staff to return to their offices. 

The bank’s CEO, Jes Staley, said ‘it is important to get people back together in physical concentrations’ and that a return would take place on a ‘prudent time schedule’.

Mr Staley said he and the bank ‘expect and want’ employees to head back to work ‘over time’. 

He also insisted the bank has a ‘responsibility’ to places where it has offices, like Canary Wharf and Manchester. 

Mr Staley’s comments are likely to be warmly welcomed by Downing Street after Mr Johnson announced earlier this month that work from home rules will be relaxed in a bid to stimulate the economy. 

Jes Staley, Barclays’ CEO pictured in Downing Street in January 2018, said today ‘it is important to get people back together in physical concentrations’

The comments came after Boris Johnson, pictured in Beeston yesterday, urged workers to physically return to their desks in August

The comments came after Boris Johnson, pictured in Beeston yesterday, urged workers to physically return to their desks in August

There are growing fears in the Government that the work from home guidance which was in place during lockdown represents a threat to the UK’s chances of a swift economic recovery. 

That guidance said people should work from home if they are able to. 

British Airways is ‘exploring every option to control our costs’ amid claims it will mothball £200m HQ 

British Airways said today it is ‘exploring every option to control our costs’ amid reports that it is mothballing its £200million headquarters near Heathrow Airport.

The embattled airline’s Waterside offices, which opened 22 years ago, have been mostly empty since the coronavirus pandemic took hold four months ago.

Frequent flier website Head For Points had claimed BA’s global operations team including senior management would move to Technical Block C at Hatton Cross, where the airline was based until 1998.

But BA is not expected to shut Waterside, with its operational teams remaining there and its back office functions continuing to work remotely as they have been during the crisis.

A BA spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We are exploring every option to control our costs. We have a large property estate and we are always seeking ways to manage it in the optimum way.’

Its owner, International Airlines Group, has previously said it is burning through cash and does not expect to return to full capacity until 2023.

But Mr Johnson said at a press conference on July 17 that from August ‘instead of government telling people to work from home, we’re going to give employers more discretion and ask them to discuss how their staff can work safely’.

Ministers are hoping that the return of more workers to their pre-lockdown routines will help save deserted town and city centres. 

Mr Staley signalled during an interview with Bloomberg today that he wants his staff to head back to the office. 

‘In terms of people working from home, it is extraordinary,’ he said. ‘We have some 60,000 people working from their kitchen tables. 

‘That we had the technology, the systems, the controls, the compliance to do all that is quite something.

‘But I should also add that we have 20,000 people in the UK that are actually working from offices or working from our branches, they are working from our call centres. 

‘We expect and want to get, in a prudent time schedule, taking care of the health and wellbeing of our employees, it is important to get people back together in physical concentrations. 

‘We need to do it, considering the pandemic. But we also have a responsibility to places like Canary Wharf, like Manchester, like Glasgow, so we have learned a lot through this dynamic work environment. 

‘I am sure we will use a lot of the things that we have learned going forward but also we want our people back together, make sure we ensure the evolution of our culture, our controls, and I think that will happen over time.’  

Mr Staley’s comments came as it emerged that Barclays took a further £1.6 billion hit from the coronavirus crisis in the second quarter of the year even as the investment arm of the bank managed to keep it in profit.

The bank said it would see a pre-tax profit of £1.27 billion in the first half of the financial year, down from £3 billion the year before. It came on revenue of £11.62 billion in the first half of 2020.  

Earlier this year Barclays revealed a £2.1 billion hit in its first quarter, citing the impact of coronavirus. It takes the total impairment for the first half to £3.7 billion. 

However, while the retail arm of the bank saw a major hit from the coronavirus, the bank’s corporate investment arm saw a 31 per cent jump in income to £6.9 billion, helping to keep Barclays in the black during the first half. 

Mr Staley said: ‘Credit impairment charges increased to £3.7 billion in the first half due to the forecast impact of Covid-19. 

‘However, our improved pre-impairment performance ensured that we still delivered £1.3 billion profit before tax for the first half of 2020, post impairment.

‘While the remainder of 2020 will be challenging, our diversified model means we can remain financially resilient and continue to support our customers and clients.’