Societe Generale to give up one floor of Hong Kong offices as remote working takes hold

Chad Bray
·3-min read

Societe Generale plans to give up one floor of its offices at Three Pacific Place in Hong Kong later this year, the latest financial institution to rethink its real estate footprint as more companies embrace remote working following the coronavirus pandemic.

The French bank opted, as part of its latest lease renewal at the office building complex owned by Swire Properties, to surrender one of the seven floors it occupies. The new lease, which runs for five years, begins in October.

The bank began assessing, as early as 2019, different options regarding its lease renewal, factoring in increased expectations by staff to work from home, the convenience of its location near the Admiralty MTR station and the costs of moving, a SocGen spokesman said.

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“We have therefore concluded a stay at PP3 and will release one floor to integrate increased usage of remote working, further accelerated by the pandemic crisis, and the ability to refurbish offices to provide a better and more user-friendly experience for our employees,” the spokesman said.

Many companies in Hong Kong are re-evaluating their office space needs, as they adopt hybrid working structures. Photo: Reuters
Many companies in Hong Kong are re-evaluating their office space needs, as they adopt hybrid working structures. Photo: Reuters

The typical floor area for an office at Three Pacific Place is 15,000 square feet, with an asking price of HK$110 (US$14) per square foot a month.

SocGen is among a number of lenders in the city who are re-evaluating their office space footprint after engaging in the world’s biggest work-from-home experiment as the pandemic closed offices and forced lockdowns from New York to Shanghai.

Many lenders are adopting hybrid working structures, where employees who can, spend less time in the office and work part of their week at home.

HSBC, the biggest Hong Kong’s currency-issuing banks, said in November that it would allow some of its employees to work as many as four days a week at home and could reduce its office footprint globally by as much as 40 per cent in the coming years as it digitises more functions and embraces new ways of working.

Standard Chartered is not renewing the leases for eight floors at its main Hong Kong offices and is allowing employees in the city and eight other markets to apply for flexible working arrangements, including using off-site co-working spaces closer to their homes.

Citigroup is adopting a hybrid model where many of its employees will work three days a week in the office and two at home and is also introducing a hot desking model where it can in its Hong Kong offices.

DBS, BNP Paribas and UBS are among other lenders who have relinquished office space in Hong Kong recent months.

Additional reporting by Sandy Li

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