Just a year ago, how many of HSBC’s top managers could have imagined they were about to lose their prestigious offices on the 42nd floor of the landmark Canary Wharf HQ?
Or that they would soon find themselves hot-desking in an open-plan area while their former private domains were converted into client meeting rooms and communal spaces?
But that’s exactly what has been announced as the banking giant pushes forward with plans to cut office space by 40% as part of a post-pandemic shake-up.
It’s just one example of the far-reaching changes to working patterns and premises use that’s happening right across the corporate world.
The HSBC restructuring is one of the most dramatic in the banking and finance sector – it has plans to reduce its global workforce of 235,000 by around 35,000 – but it is far from alone.
Another big UK employer, the Nationwide, recently confirmed it didn’t intend to force staff to return to offices, and a growing list of companies have indicated that hybrid working will play an important part in future operations.
These changes may seem dramatic – and their speed is surprising – but many facilities managers will know that they are really just an acceleration trends that were going to happen anyway. Particularly since the glory days of the office should have been over once work stopped involving shuffling and processing lots of paper. Yet while the Adobe PDF was invented in 1993, the domination of large office spaces and campuses grew at pace, perhaps reflecting a market failure and resistance to change.
Today, there are many other reasons why premises use was always going to evolve, including competitive pressure to streamline operations; the disruptive effects of increased connectivity and online commerce; the rise of AI; and the pressing need to operate more sustainably and reduce energy waste.
The pandemic has accelerated all this, and without question it has triggered a step-change in thinking that might not have happened for years.
Without COVID it might just have felt just too radical to let the majority of staff work remotely for much of the week… to stop flying and to hold essential international meetings online instead of in person… or to close those senior managers’ offices on the 42nd floor!
But technology is not just a disrupter, it’s an enabler.
Today, the facilities managers we are working with are better placed to adapt the systems they use, and operate their premises more flexibly, than at any time previously.
It’s now easy for them to integrate and extend their security and building management technologies. Just one example: the many business that already use AXIS Entry Manager and AXIS Camera Station Secure Entry systems can now extend their systems and add an almost limitless choice of new functions, simply by integrating with Quanika Compact and Quanika Enterprise.
And a synchronization utility tool makes it easy to do.
We’ve all become used to this approach with our smartphones. We no longer have to put up with inconvenience or time wasting when we upgrade because the new phone now does that for us, and makes it simple.
It’s the same with the new generation of integrated solutions. Businesses can upgrade immediately, and extend the functions, features, and services they have available – from fire alarm systems to visitor management, from Microsoft Active Directory integration to elevator controls.
So, the rapid changes in premises use that we are seeing, that might previously have been difficult to manage, have become much simpler. This is good news for facilities and security managers at just the moment when they are dealing with some of the biggest challenges they’ve ever had to face.
And it’s good news for systems integrators too, because they can now offer their customers an affordable and rapid path forward, and demonstrate exciting new value for existing hardware.
Looking ahead, we’re going to see much more of this, as the ability to extend legacy systems and add new value to existing infrastructure becomes something that all businesses will expect.