'Wacky' Or What ? - Top Firm Tests 'Deskless' Offices, Trading Floors At Sea

Kiron Workstation

OK, so it's something a little different from UBS again (and we all know how that dress code went over a couple of months back), but this time those guys in Switzerland who are paid to come up with these wacky kind of ideas might actually be on to something.

Dow Jones Newswires reports that UBS is trying out 2,400 Kiron workstations in an interesting experiment that could revolutionize the way we operate at work. And the concept is stunningly simple.

Instead of rocking up to work each day and sitting at the same old desk, staring at the same old miserable face opposite, what if you didn't have desks allocated to you, but you just went to the work station that was in the most appropriate place for you on any given day, and rolled across the work / laptop you needed from a fully portable 'cabinet' ?

That way, if you are working with a colleague on a particular project, you'd be able to undertake your duties side by side. If there was a few of you, you could all sit together in the desks by the corner, instead of having to book a conference room.

Initially rolling out 2,400 Kiron workspaces, mainly to IT and back-office staff in Switzerland, the bank plans to trial up to 10,000 units before the end of next year, and will then decide whether it is appropriate to roll them out to the rest of the global workforce.

One banker told us: 'I can see that this could work in certain circumstances, but generally people are creatures of habit and like to sit in familar surroundings. My guess is that, even with the new office set-up, staff will quickly revert to their usual seating arrangements. Good job it's not a German bank, though. Can you imagine how early you'd have to get in to bag a workstation with a view!'.

Finally, CNBC reports that high-frequency trading firms might be tempted to look into the possiblity of building their trading floors on transatlantic ships. Yep, you heard it right. For example, if you are looking to exploit temporary price differentials between London and New York, the quickest way to achieve your objective is to be located somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean equidistant from the two financial centres, as you will apparently be receiving the information on which to trade that much quicker - literally at the speed of light. 

One trader told us: 'Trading at sea ? Why not, there are plenty of casinos already located on the water. This is just a logical extension'.

One M&A guy, however, said: 'Great idea. I think we should get all our traders in a big ship, take it to the middle of the Atlantic, and then pull the plug out. That would improve morale here in an instant'.



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