Société Générale adopts work-from-home policy

French bank formalises remote working policy after discussions with labour unions

French multinational bank Société Générale (SocGen) is allowing its staff in France to work remotely two days a week after completing negotiations with labour unions.

As part of the plan, employees will be given money to help them get the technology they need to work from home.

SocGen is the latest bank to announce plans to increase flexibility for staff after the success of enforced work from home policies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The policy will apply to all its staff in France – about 40,000 – but will eventually extend to its total global workforce of around 140,000.

Caroline Guillaumin, SocGen’s head of human resources, said: “It is essential to quickly define a new work structure that would meet the expectations of our employees after the unique experience of remote working, which we had to set up urgently due to this unprecedented crisis.”

The bank agreed with trade unions that staff should work in SocGen offices for a minimum of 40% of their time. It agreed to offer €150 to help employees set up their home workstations and will offer restaurant tickets for teleworking days.

“This agreement acts as a framework in many ways,” said Guillaumin. “Teleworking will be widespread and will become the norm for all our employees, providing the anticipated benefits in terms of quality of life.”

There is a growing work-from-home trend in the banking sector. Earlier this month, challenger financial services firm Revolut said it was converting office space into areas for staff collaboration while making flexible working permanent for most of them.

This followed a survey of Revolut staff which revealed an appetite for remote working. Some 86% of its employees said they enjoyed not having to commute, and 60% said they now had a better work/life balance. Meanwhile, 92% of staff said their productivity had not changed or, if it had, it had increased.

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Another survey by KPMG and the Financial Services Skills Commission revealed in October that half of UK workers in the sector want to continue to be able to work from home for at least part of the week when the pandemic passes. It also found that 26% of staff want to work from home permanently, and 13% want to relocate.

Traditionally conservative banks could lead the way in the corporate work-from-home revolution. 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.

Meanwhile, in Denmark, Danske Bank recently said its decision to send 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.”

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