Banking giant HSBC is scrapping its executive offices in East London and instead its top managers, including CEO Noel Quinn, will be hot desking on a floor two stories below the firm’s former executive office suite, according to The Financial Times. 

The move is the latest in a string of bold office shifts by top global companies who are rethinking their occupancy strategies post-COVID.

“Our offices were empty half the time because we were travelling around the world. That was a waste of real estate,” Quinn told the Financial Times in an interview this week. 

The trend is already being embraced by large law firms. A recent report from Savills shows that many global firms have taken up what Savills calls “day-officing,” a term that encompasses hoteling, agile or remote working policies. The firm’s research shows that 41% of law firms are either already day-officing or are planning to, with another 48% exploring alternative-type of workplace strategies. A mere 10% of law firms aren’t.

If the recent move by HSBC is any indication, more firmsincluding those in more traditionally office-using industriesare becoming open to the idea of hybrid WFH policies that more expansively imagine how physical space can and should be used.  In January 2021, the average office utilization clocked in at just shy of 8%, according to VergeSense, a number that’s far below the (still low) usage level of 30% logged pre-pandemic. But the pandemic has also ushered in an increase in collaborative use of physical space, with a 15% uptick. About 23% of overall utilization was for collaborative work in early 2021.

Against this backdrop, investors are increasingly bullish on office activity.  

“Office buildings are not going away any time soon,” Giovanni Cordoves, Western regional president, told in an earlier interview. “As long as workers have a need for community and employers strive for ingenuity and collaboration, there will be a demand for office space. Additionally, as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available and people feel safe and comfortable, well-amenitized office properties will once again be in high demand.”