Risks and maintenance costs are transferred to workers, writes Terry Kelly, while Janet Poliakoff believes it reduces carbon emissions and Caroline Mozley is glad there is still a choice
Your report that HSBC is planning to cut its global office footprint by 40% as a result of requiring its staff to work from home is somewhat misleading (Morgan Stanley boss tells US staff to be back in office in September, 15 June). In reality, what HSBC and a host of other companies are planning to do is cut the cost of their office footprint by transferring the square footage they pay for in town and city centres to the homes of their staff. So the total office space such companies use is not reduced, it is simply transferred, along with the cost, to the staff who are required to work from home.
The implication, of course, is that HSBC et al will enjoy enormous cost savings in terms of rents, building maintenance and, not least of all, business rates, by moving commercial premises to residential settings. Quite apart from issues of planning (ie, residential premises being used for commercial purposes), there is the question of whether someone who uses their home officially for business purposes should be paying towards the shortfall in business rates that local authorities will lose out on as businesses vacate their city/town centre premises – not to mention the knock-on effect on service industries that depend on office workers for their livelihood. Also, who pays for cleaning the home/office space that employees use on behalf of their employer? Presumably the employee.