Global Head, Citi Private Bank
October 2, 2020Posted InCiti
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Times of crisis can unleash great – and often unexpected – waves of progress. The revolution in working practices during the present pandemic is a shining example of this.
Over the last few months, the vast majority of us at the Private Bank have continued to serve your needs without having to leave our homes. Thanks to digital technology, countless other organizations around the world have managed to carry on their usual activities too. In many cases, this has seen productivity maintained or even improved, with employees reporting a better work/life balance.
Despite the success of this unprecedented experiment, it has also highlighted the limitations of working remotely. In a great many situations, face-to-face interaction is preferable and even essential. At the Private Bank, we have hugely missed meeting with you and hosting you at in-person events. For companies globally, many game-changing innovations owe their existence to chance conversations over the watercooler. And while homes can often make excellent workspaces, they are less likely to do so when simultaneously acting as classrooms.
Could these experiences – both positive and negative – help business to redesign working life after COVID-19? Giving employees the flexibility to work partly from home could boost morale and output, while conserving the benefits of real-life interaction with clients and colleagues. What is more, even a single day a week of remote working could positively impact the environment. For a highly thought-provoking analysis of these and many other effects – including the future of corporate travel – I very much recommend the recent Citi GPS report that explores the “New World of Remote Work.”
If remote working does become a permanent feature of life after COVID-19, it could have a profound effect upon cities worldwide. Many firms may simply no longer require the amount of prime location space they presently occupy. Freed of the obligation to attend daily, meanwhile, large numbers of city-dwelling employees might relocate to the suburbs or beyond. The implications for real estate developers and investors could be equally significant. At a virtual event this week, we explored the future of UK commercial real estate, with a focus upon London. Our next event on Monday will address New York’s shifting property scene. Please join our expert panel to consider the outlook for this key asset class.
Of course, the regeneration of work ought to go further than just rethinking routines and workplaces. Much of the work that is done should also change. A “circular economy” is one that designs out waste, keeps materials in use and regenerates natural systems. To explain this vital concept, we will be welcoming a very special guest at next week’s session of our Autumn Dialogues program. In 2005, Dame Ellen MacArthur set a new record for her solo yacht circumnavigation of the globe. Since then, she has emerged as a leading advocate for creating growth and progress via a circular economy. I warmly invite you to register for what promises to be a fascinating conversation.
On the subject of sustainability, I wanted to let you know about a wonderful upcoming experience at the British Museum in London. The Citi exhibition Arctic: culture and climate is a celebration of the ingenuity and resilience of the region’s peoples throughout history. Developed in collaboration with some of those communities, this immersive experience is also a sobering reminder of the threat to their way of life from climate change. If you’d like to visit the exhibition in person or have a virtual tour, please let us know and we will happily make the arrangements. In the meantime, this brief preview is a moving testament to one of the Earth’s most remarkable natural treasures and its equally remarkable inhabitants.
I very much look forward to coming to your part of the world and seeing you in person as soon as conditions allow once more.