London/Frankfurt — The debate about the future of the office is drifting towards a firm conclusion: workers will spend more of their weekdays away from it.

With the end of UK lockdowns in sight, Deutsche Bank is now considering letting British staff work from home for one to three days a week. Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) expects workers will spend a similar amount of time at home and is reshaping offices to meet such demands, the fund manager said on Tuesday.

The shift towards a permanent home-office split was further quantified on Tuesday by IWG, the world’s largest flexible office landlord. It said hybrid working has sparked a boom in large companies seeking more flexible access to sites across its 3,300 locations.

Requiring staff to return to the office for five days a week “feels to me a little bit like a wasted opportunity”, Tiina Lee, Deutsche Bank’s UK CEO, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. Staff feedback indicates they want to work from home at least one to three days a week and “that is something that we’re looking to explore”.

Germany’s largest bank has been discussing a new policy for remote work for months as it seeks to cut back on real estate costs while adapting to changed staff attitudes. Bloomberg previously reported that the bank may allow staff to work from home two days a week.

SLA has “been conducting an extreme makeover” of its main office in London and has revamped its Edinburgh headquarters, CEO Stephen Bird said. “We have reconfigured it for hybrid working. After such a long period of working from home we need to really attract our employees back into the offices, but not on a full-time basis.”

The firm has switched its focus to open-plan offices, which will lead to more meeting areas for brain-storming, Bird said.

Japan’s Nippon Telegraph & Telephone signed a corporate occupier deal that will allow its 300,000 staff to access any of IWG’s global sites, the office provider’s biggest such deal yet.

Demand for office space has rebounded fastest in smaller towns and cities that are closer to where people live, IWG CEO Mark Dixon said. That’s because workers are keen to avoid a full-time return to costly, lengthy and potentially unsafe commutes.

“The problem in big cities is really commute-related,” Dixon said. “That’s what will come through after this is over, and that’s what makes hybrid and flexible working so attractive.”



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