Office Capacity By Global Banks In HK Surpasses 50%
HONG KONG – With the number of daily COVID-19 cases hovering close to zero for weeks, multinational financial firms in the Chinese territory want more of their staff to return to the office, reported Reuters on Monday afternoon (21 June, SGT).
For instance, a representative from Citigroup told Reuters that 75 percent of its employees in Hong Kong are currently back in their workplace.
JPMorgan intends to achieve an office occupancy of 75 percent in the next few weeks, while Bank of America plans to reach 100 percent workplace capacity by the end of this month, said their bankers.
Morgan Stanley has over 70 percent of its Hong Kong workforce back to the office, while 60 percent to 70 percent of Credit Suisse’s staff are back in their workplace, revealed their existing employees.
In addition, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday afternoon (22 June, SGT) that HSBC and Goldman Sachs have already reopened their workplaces to all of their staff.
Given the aforementioned figures, office occupancy by global banks in the Chinese territory exceeds those in London and New York, where there are currently hundreds of daily COVID-19 cases. In comparison, Hong Kong only saw 1 daily case on average last week.
However, a major barrier to the full reopening of Hong Kong’s economy is that the city’s vaccination rate is low versus other financial hubs, as people are reluctant to get inoculated as they distrust the government after freedoms were curtailed after the massive street protests in 2019, Bloomberg noted.
Compared to Singapore’s 47 percent, New York’s 54 percent, and London’s 55 percent, only 27 percent of Hong Kong’s population have received at least 1 vaccine dose, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.
As such, the local authorities have sought the help of businesses in its vaccination campaign, with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (central bank) urging all financial firms to “strongly encourage” workers in support functions or customer-facing roles to get vaccinated.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam also announced news measures to expedite the city’s sluggish vaccination rate by September. These include offering paid leave for inoculated government workers, and possible additional curbs on unvaccinated Hong Kongers.
Similarly, many financial firms in the city are offering 2 days off for staff who get inoculated, while some banks are pushing harder.
For example, Morgan Stanley conducted an on-site vaccination last Wednesday for workers who have yet to receive a jab, and the bank plans to carry out another one 3 weeks from now for those who need their 2nd shot. Likewise, Citigroup hosted its first onsite vaccine clinic on Tuesday (22 June).