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Mizuho to cut Singapore office space on work-from-home success: sources

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Mizuho Financial Group is set to trim its Singapore office space, as the Japanese bank looks to revamp the workplace in global financial centres in the wake of the pandemic.

[SINGAPORE] Mizuho Financial Group is set to trim its Singapore office space, as the Japanese bank looks to revamp the workplace in global financial centres in the wake of the pandemic.

Japan's third-largest lender is looking to cut about 16 per cent of space - equivalent to less than one floor - at Asia Square Tower 2 in the financial district, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Mizuho is an anchor tenant in the building owned by CapitaLand Commercial Trust, occupying four floors measuring about 105,000 square feet (9,755 square metres).

The bank is also looking at how to make better use of its backup office at Changi Business Park, the people added. Mizuho occupies 200,000 square feet there as part of its business continuity plan.

Banks around the world are grappling with how to utilise offices as they consider making flexible work arrangements permanent once the pandemic subsides. Mizuho has already flagged plans to trim space in New York and London after determining that employees there remained productive while working from home.

In Singapore, the Japanese bank joins Citigroup in paring its footprint during the health crisis. Amazon.com is set to take over space left by Citigroup, part of a trend of tech behemoths expanding their presence in the city-state as online shopping soars.

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Mizuho had already been considering an office revamp in Singapore but the plans were exacerbated by the onset of the virus and ensuing government lockdown, the people said.

After the social distancing rules were relaxed in June, only 35 per cent of its local staff returned to the office. And even after the government allowed more people to go back to workplaces in September, the bank didn't rush to do so, raising the figure to about 40 per cent, the people said.

While trimming office space will reduce costs, that wasn't the objective and it doesn't signal that the bank its cutting manpower, they added.

Masako Shiono, a spokesperson for Tokyo-based Mizuho, declined to comment.

Mizuho is also planning to redesign its Singapore office, creating a more open, communal workplace to suit the needs of its younger workforce, the people said. But in light of the pandemic, safe management measures will be imposed to avoid crowding, they said.

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