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Citi is splashing out on a huge revamp of its London office. It’s adding a winter garden, wellbeing zones, and ‘villages’ for its teams — take a look inside.

Citi

  • Citi is giving its London office a complete makeover.
  • The block will be adapted to the bank’s hybrid-work pledge and will have an emphasis on wellbeing.
  • This includes more doctors’ offices, healthy food, and lots of greenery.

Citi is overhauling its London officeFog shrouds the Canary Wharf business district including global financial institutions Citigroup Inc., State Street Corp., Barclays Plc, HSBC Holdings Plc and the commercial office block No. 1 Canada Square, on the Isle of Dogs on November 05, 2020 in London, England.Citi’s current office in Canary Wharf, London.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Image

Financial-services giant Citi is overhauling its Europe, Middle East, and Africa headquarters.

The office block, in London’s financial hub of Canary Wharf, is getting a full interior renovation as the company’s adapts to hybrid work and hones in on its net-zero pledge.

The office groups teams into villagesCiti London office revampThe new office will feature more spaces for collaboration and socializing.

Citi

“The existing city tower is a product of its time built 20-odd years ago,” Kathryn Harrison, the EMEA head of Citi’s realty-services team, told Insider. She said that the building mainly had desks and offices with little linkage between the floors or space for collaborative work.

The revamped office will have a mixture of private workspaces, meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, socializing areas, wellbeing zones, and personal services.

“We’ll be punching holes through the floor and connecting a lot of the floors with staircases,” Harrison said.

She said that Citi designed the new office with flexibility in mind. The collaboration spaces will be self-configurable, featuring a lot of “click-and-play” furniture. This includes walls that are easy to move and tables that can be extended to set up the space as needed for each meeting.

“It’s really space that’s agile, that can be easily configured to the need of the day — or the hour,” Harrison said.

The office is adapted for hybrid workingCiti London officeCiti’s current office in Canary Wharf, London.

Grace Dean/Insider

The new office will be set up for hybrid working, Harrison said. Citi announced last year that the majority of its staff globally would be working a hybrid model, with at least three days a week in the office.

“The meeting rooms need to be really carefully curated and designed now because what we want to do is enable asynchronous communication and decision making, which means that we don’t fall into that proximity decision-making model just by virtue of the hybrid-working model,” Harrison said.

“There’s some amazing technology where you can create a virtual team no matter where you are and create that real sense of presence in the room.”

But Citi is designing the office to attract staff in, Harrison said. Staff will hot-desk at the office, and desks will be arranged into “neighborhoods” and bookable in advance.

Interestingly, even though some companies are cutting back on their real-estate holdings and switching to smaller or fewer office spaces, the capacity of Citi’s new office will be roughly equal to the size of the company’s London workforce of around 9,000 people.

“Clearly we believe we’re an office-based firm,” Harrison said. Working together in-person fuels creativity and collaboration and allows people to learn from each other, she said.

“We do heavily believe the office has a huge part to play in the success of our business,” she said.

Because of the pandemic, “what we’ve just learned is that the building really needs to be adaptable,” Harrison said. “So we are really designing this with ultimate flexibility.”

“I also think that nobody wants to just come to work to sit in rows and rows of desks,” she added. “So gone I think are the days of rows of battery farms and desks bankers used to love. I don’t think that’s what bankers do love anymore, and certainly not the support staff.”

“The office needs to be inspiring and it needs to pull people in,” Harrison continued. “They want to come in because it’s such a great working environment.”

The office includes a huge winter gardenCiti London office revampCiti’s new office will have a huge winter garden.

Citi

The office will be full of green spaces, including a huge central winter garden.

“It’s really nice because it rings the whole of the building, so you can walk all the way round,” Harrison said. “It feels like you’re outside.” 

As well as the garden, the central area will also feature a gymnasium “with views out over the whole of London,” a large restaurant, and doctors’ offices, she said.

“We’ve deliberately put it in the middle to make it accessible for everyone,” Harrison said.

In the new, redesigned office, teams will be grouped into so-called “villages,” too. Every three floors of the office block will form a village with its own spaces for collaborating and socializing, Harrison said.

The center floor of each village will serve as a breakout area “that will look and feel very different” from the other areas, she said.

Wellbeing plays a core role in the new officeCiti London office revampCiti’s new office will have a huge winter garden.

Citi

The office has been designed to better meet staff’s wellbeing needs, Harrison said.

“As an employer of choice, there’s a war for talent and we need to be punching up there with the best of them,” she said.

Harrison said Citi had heavily consulted with staff to find out what they wanted from the new building. More health and wellbeing facilities were requested. She said Citi was creating spaces for people to step away from their desks and “really recharge their batteries.”

Harrison said Citi already had “extensive” health facilities, including doctors’ and nurses’ offices, but that it was redesigning its nursing rooms and adding more throughout the building.

Citi’s also trialing some health pods. This will allow people to take readings of their cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight without having to see a doctor. “That was another thing that people really felt they wanted — some form of self-service,” Harrison said.

She added that the building would have healthy food offerings throughout, as well as “really good” coffee and food pods that serve juice, among other things.

The office will help Citi meet its net-zero goalsCiti London office revampHow Citi’s new office will look from the outside.

Citi

Harrison said the redesigned London office will help Citi meet its environmental commitments.

By renovating the office rather than completely rebuilding it, Citi is cutting its carbon emissions by around 100,000 UK tonnes (112,000 US tons), and is only sending around 5% of project waste to landfill, she said. The building will also have a water system that cuts consumption down by 20%, she said.

“This will be our most carbon efficient building in our entire global portfolio,” Harrison said. “It’s the first building that really will be built to net-zero standards.”

She said Citi has to “walk the talk” because it has made really strong statements to the market around its net-zero ambitions. “So we’ve really had to get into the nitty gritty to make sure we can of deliver on that,” she said.

Harrison added that by facilitating a hybrid-working model, Citi would cut its carbon footprint from staff commutes.

Staff won’t move in for at least three yearsCiti London office revampCiti’s new office will have lots of green spaces and wellbeing zones.

Citi

Citi doesn’t plan to move staff into the new office until late 2025 and early 2026, Harrison said. When they do return, it will be a staggered entry, she said. While the renovation works are ongoing, Citi staff will relocate to a neighboring building also owned by the company.

But Harrison said that, though it’s more than three years away, the renovated office would have a focus on hygiene, driven by the pandemic. This includes a focus on the finishes and high touch points like using ion silver plates in the lift, she said.

Citi has already improved the air filtration in its existing London office, Harrison said.

The new office is a ‘significant investment.’Citi London officeCiti’s current office in Canary Wharf, London.

Grace Dean/Insider

Harrison declined to say how much the works would cost but told Insider that it represented a “significant investment in our staff.”

“We bought the building, which obviously was a huge investment and big statement as to the importance of London as a financial center,” Harrison said. “And it’s going to be refurbished with a view that it lasts 20 years.”

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