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Citi Offers Alternative Work-life Balance for Bankers in Málaga

16 September 2022

Citigroup has announced plans to open a new office hub in Málaga, offering a working alternative for employees in comparison to the likes of London and New York HQs.

The US banking organisation has already begun the process of enrolling staff for a new European junior banking analytics group to be stationed at the new facility, as well as summer internships. The seaside city on Spain’s Costa del Sol obviously benefits from weather and idyllic location, to be boosted with a lesser commitment than the industry-standard of above normal working hours.


“We suffer from a lot of churn like the rest of the industry, and we lose talent to private equity and tech, so we are eager to understand if we can stop that by offering a better work-life balance.” 

– Manolo Falcó
Global Co-head of Investment Banking, Citigroup


Transformation of the Workplace


There is an ongoing shift in updating our commercial real estate portfolios to fit the changing needs of workforces. The pandemic ushered in forced hybrid working models that have shown employees they can have home luxuries, and shown employers the unnecessary costs of under-utilised buildings. The working habits of almost 80,000 employees were recorded across June and July 2022 as part of The Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) Hybrid Working Index study – it found that on an average day, two-thirds of desks are unused and just over a quarter of people are coming into the offices, with the attendance figure dropping to just 12 per cent on Fridays. 

"The current challenge for property managers is to devise creative solutions that mean buildings remain inviting, without wasting valuable resources," Eleanor Newton, Senior Associate at Workman LLP, explained. The hybrid and home working productivity proof has demonstrably enabled those employees to make more demands of communal spaces if they are to leave the home. One approach is to minimise the used space, another is to change the space to create appeal and to benefit the company.

HqO have collaborated with Verdantix for their most recent in depth report on the evolving global landscape of commercial real estate, with both the views of property owners and occupiers balanced for a well rounded summary of the modern workplace. 48 per cent of employers in the survery indicate that most or all of their employees are already back in the office, but it’s redesigning the office that is likely to revitalise this population density in the coming years as 68 per cent of employers have already redesigned their physical workspaces to support modern employee needs, while 28 per cent have intention to action such changes within a couple of years.

We recently published coverage for a tour of the Virgin Media O2 office in Reading with the IWFM Home Counties Region, where the suitability for both during and post-pandemic flexibility were showcased. Rooms like the dedicated wellbeing space illustrated experimenting to bring value back into offices despite lower occupancy levels. 


Citigroup's Edge in Offering Both


Citigroup is looking to stand out from Wall Street by making available a different lifestyle in banking after identifying the reluctance in some for returning to central Manhattan or Canary Wharf. Some of the industry have however criticised the move as one without the potential for long-term success, even suggesting it condemns those that take the opportunity to a poor start in the industry, citing the lessened hours and salary that is a feature of the new. However, this seems somewhat surprising coming from a line of work notorious for burnout. 

The other clear facet of the people-centric focus now blossoming in the built environment, as a result of the home working pull, is prioritising then optimising employee engagement and ultimately experience. Despite wellbeing remaining an ongoing concern for workers, CIPD research suggests that mental health is beginning to slip down the business agenda amongst senior leaders.


Employee Wellbeing Brings Company Wellbeing


After a stressful year for many in which lives and livelihoods were lost, and even retraining was encouraged by the government, many people will be reconsidering their career path in line with what they want to get out of life. Attracting and retaining talent should be top of the agenda for forward-thinking companies, with the risk of falling behind otherwise.

There is a higher expectation for employee wellbeing initiatives and support than ever before, and diversity and inclusion is also more important in the public eye of younger generations. Keeping a sector appealing for reasons other than simply the highest earnings is evidently warranted – although the starting salaries are approximately half that offered in its flagship city centers, Citigroup have have had over 3000 applicants.

“This is not a gimmick, it is a reality – the incredible reaction internally and from our competition has confirmed that the project is off to a good start,” said Manolo Falcó, global co-head of investment banking, to the Financial Times. “We suffer from a lot of churn like the rest of the industry, and we lose talent to private equity and tech, so we are eager to understand if we can stop that by offering a better work-life balance.” 

“We don’t agree there will be any stigma at all. Citi has a presence in 95 countries with many different businesses and there are no second-class citizens,” he added. “We want to open other ways to attract the best talent and the quality of the CVs shows there is a trend from this generation that they want more free time.” 


Picture: a high up view of Málaga. Image credit: Pixabay.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 16 September 2022


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