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Financial services staff want work-from-home policies to continue after Covid

About half of workers in the finance sector want their employers to retain remote working policies brought in during the pandemic

Half of workers in the UK’s financial services sector want to continue to be able to work from home for at latest part of the week when the Covid-19 pandemic passes.

A survey by KPMG and the Financial Services Skills Commission (FSSC) also found that 26% of staff want to work from home permanently and 13% want to relocate.

When the pandemic surged at the end of March and countries went into lockdown, businesses had to allow and enable their staff to work from home as much as possible. While there has been a gradual return to work in some sectors, in others, where remote working technologies have proved a success, there has been no hurry to return all staff. Businesses in the financial services sector are an example.

Barclays CEO Jes Staley said recently that the reaction to the coronavirus lockdown had been a learning curve for the bank and had helped it to understand how a “dynamic work environment” would operate.

In June, Denmark’s Danske Bank said sending thousands of staff from the office to work from home would have a lasting impact on how work is structured and conducted.

Chris Vogelzang, the bank’s CEO, said: “This experience has proved that there is so much untapped potential in the virtual workspace that we need to explore and use to create a more attractive and flexible workplace, while still maintaining the inspiration, energy and social connection that comes with belonging to a physical team and environment.”

Figures in the KPMG/FSSC report reveal that if financial services firms want to continue to attract the best staff, they will have to have policies that enable employees to work from home permanently or part-time. It found that workers aged between 31 and 45 want to work more flexibly (53%) and workers under 30 are the most interested in working from home permanently (28%).

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“Covid-19 has created a global shift in ways of working,” said Mel Newton, head of financial services people consulting at KPMG UK. “With much of the workforce scattered across a variety of home-offices, kitchen tables and spare bedrooms, this has presented both difficulty and, in some cases, welcome flexibility.

“It is important to note that only half of the workforce want to continue working this way, and that clear division is important. It demonstrates that flexibility is more than just allowing people to work from home on the occasional Friday – what the future workforce wants is personal choice.”

Newton said that after the pandemic, employers cannot offer blanket solutions for how their employees work. “They will make the best of their talent if they employ them more thoughtfully,” she said.

The report also revealed that staff want more training in using technology, with 30% saying they need more digital expertise and that only a quarter have been offered digital training by their employers.

Claire Tunley, CEO at the FSSC, said skills challenges facing the UK financial services sector have been brought into greater focus. “As we have experienced a huge leap forward in digitisation and remote working, the need to upskill our employees in digital and technological expertise is more important than ever,” she said.

“Increased investment in our employees’ future skills, alongside a sophisticated remote and flexible working offer, will help the UK financial services firms address the skills crisis the sector has been facing, attract talent, and position it for a successful future.”

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