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UBS says one-third of staff could work remotely on permanent basis

Zurich

UBS Group may never bring all of its employees back to the office in a post-Covid-19 environment, with the bank's chief operating officer Sabine Keller-Busse saying that as many as a third of its employees could work remotely on a permanent basis.

UBS employs just short of 70,000 people in 50 countries and had 80 per cent of its worldwide staff at home during the height of the pandemic. The bank is now looking at allowing employees back on site in a staggered approach by region.

It is still assessing which roles will return to the office, Ms Keller-Busse said in an interview during Bloomberg's Invest Global event on Monday.

Back-office roles are more likely to continue working remotely, while trading operations are more easily conducted on the premises.

"We will see a hybrid situation. We will see quite less travel," she said. She added that for some roles, such as bankers preparing an initial public offering, being physically present will remain important, while advisory relationships with wealthy clients can continue virtually.

Ms Keller-Busse expects the rest of the banking industry to implement similar splits between home and the office, resulting in a lesser need for real estate in the longer term. She said the bank is also preparing to pause or reverse its plans if second waves of infection occur.

Credit Suisse has said that the rise of online banking, accelerated by the pandemic, could lead to less real estate and fewer employees in the medium term. It is bringing employees back to the office in four phases and is offering antibody pilot testing for employees in its major hubs. BLOOMBERG

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