What are fintechs doing with their office space in 2021?

By Oliver Smith on Thursday 12 August 2021

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Downsizing, repurposing, expanding and experimenting.

What are fintechs doing with their office space in 2021?
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In the wake of Covid, the way we work is changing dramatically, and leading fintechs are making changes to their offices in response.

These changes range from giving employees more flexibility to choose where they work, all the way to reducing floor spaces and even office closures.

In this article, we’re taking a look at the recent disclosures in the annual reports of 6 leading UK fintechs to see how they’re changing their offices.

Starling Bank

With four leased offices across London, Southampton, Cardiff and now Dublin too, Starling Bank said it refocused its floor space away from London.

“During the period, we took more space in our Cardiff office and reduced our footprint in London as leases expired,” the bank wrote in its annual report last month.

Starling said that having three UK offices, and a Dublin office focused on international expansion, gives it added flexibility to deal with new ways of working.

The bank has been remote-first since March 2020 for all but a handful of employees and says, “the pandemic has created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reassess working patterns and to provide employees with a better work/life balance, especially those with caring responsibilities.”

Read more: 7 things we learnt from Starling’s 2021 Annual Report

Monzo

Starting 2020 with offices in London, Cardiff and Las Vegas, Monzo quickly decided early on in the pandemic to close its Vegas office, which was focused on customer service.

The bank was also in the midst of moving to a new 120,000 square foot London office as the pandemic struck, which it finally started using in a limited capacity in August 2020.

In its annual report last month Monzo says it recorded a £3.9m impairment charge as part of the London office move, as the bank no longer plans to use one of the new floors it has leased and hasn’t been able to find a tenant for the space.

Read more: 5 things we learnt from Monzo’s 2021 Annual Report

Revolut

Revolut has been the most outspoken on embracing new ways of working, and announced an overhaul of its offices to “Revolut Labs”, which enable collaborative work.

Meanwhile, its workforce has been given the green light to work flexibly permanently and spend 60 days a year working from anywhere in the world.

Revolut didn’t disclose any changes to its office space in its annual report, but it’s clear that physical offices won’t be a focus for the business in the future.

Where possible, the company said all hiring “is no longer location specific enabling us to offer opportunities to a far greater number of non-mobile candidates.”

Read more: Revolut announces a permanent move to flexible working

Zopa

Like Revolut, Zopa quickly kicked off a test and learn with its employees to see whether a fully distributed work-anywhere model could work for its London and Barcelona offices. 

The fintech also introduced the option of working anywhere in the world for 90 days a year.

A Zopa spokesperson told AltFi that the test and learn was going well and “as a result, we have decreased our office space in London and moved our Barcelona hub to a work from home model.” 

“We have also rethought how we set up our office space to make it as collaborative as possible. We have seen positive results from the changes we’ve made so far and will be monitoring the impact on our people and the business as we define the future of work at Zopa.

Read more: Zopa employees can now work wherever they like, including 90 days abroad

Wise

Newly-listed on the London Stock Exchange, Wise says it onboarded 650 new employees over the past year, with the vast majority joining remotely.

In September 2020, Wise announced it would be sticking with a hybrid working model, and later added that employees could work in a different country for 90 days a year.

Outside the UK, Wise has six offices in Australia, Hong Kong, Estonia, Hungary, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

Although Wise has not announced any changes to its offices, its annual report said that the impact of the pandemic has meant that all its offices are operating “well under capacity”.

Read more: TransferWise to create 750 jobs globally in the next six months

Atom Bank

Online-only lender Atom Bank has two offices, a small London outpost with only a few square feet and 30,000 square feet across two floors in Durham.

Ed Twiddy, Atom's chief customer officer, told AltFi: "we don’t rely on physical locations to interact with our customers. Because of this, we use a flexible working culture in which there is no pressure for employees to come into the office to work at all."

“We also encourage efficient use of the limited available space, our offices operate on a hot desk system to ensure all space is used to its maximum capacity."

Read more: Atom Bank delivers first operating profit after £3bn in mortgage lending

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Companies in this Article:

London Stock Exchange Group
Monzo
Revolut
Starling Bank
Wise
Zopa
Atom Bank