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American Express announces global hybrid working model

US credit card giant is latest corporate to formalise hybrid working following the success of informal policies introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic

American Express (Amex) has announced its hybrid working policy, which is set to be offered to staff from January next year.

The credit card company’s CEO, Stephen Squeri, announced Amex Flex in a note to the company’s 64,000 staff.

Squeri said staff feedback played a critical role in creating the policy to “provide greater flexibility” while preserving the “important benefits of a special in-person culture”.

Amex Flex will kick off in the US, the UK and Germany in January at the earliest, with other regions to follow depending on local conditions and regulations.

Our traditional way of working has changed,” said Squeri. “The office is no longer the only place where most colleagues can effectively get work done, as we’ve proven throughout the last 18 months. We want to build on the progress we’ve made working virtually, including how we’ve become more efficient and agile, gained greater flexibility to manage our professional and personal lives, and levelled the playing field for colleagues across band levels and locations.”

He added that the office will continue to play an important role for the company. “Being together, in person, has huge benefits that our colleagues have missed and want to regain, including spontaneous connections and idea sharing, meeting new colleagues and rekindling existing relationships, team bonding and camaraderie, workspaces designed for creativity and collaboration, and more opportunities for mentorship, in-person coaching and networking.

“Ultimately, our goal is to achieve the best of both worlds.”

The Amex Flex model will have three basic work designations – hybrid, on-site and fully virtual. The hybrid option will see staff in the office a couple of days a week, those taking the on-site option will spend four to five days in the office, while virtual workers will visit the office only a couple of times a year. A survey of the company’s staff found that 20% wanted to work this way.

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Businesses across all sectors are moving to new working models because of the disruption caused by the pandemic and the success of the tech used to support remote workers. UK financial services firms are among them and are often some of the main cheerleaders.

However, UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) warned last week of the cyber security risks for regulated organisations such as banks enacting hybrid working policies.

The FCA’s guidance, which can be read in full here, will be applied on a case-by-case basis and sets a number of expectations on financial services organisations.

In future, a regulated firm will be required to prove that the lack of a centralised location or remote working does not affect its location in the UK or its ability to meet the threshold conditions for the regulated activities it undertakes, reduce the accuracy of various information that such organisations must supply to the FCA, cause detriment to consumers, damage market integrity or increase the risk of financial crime.

Such companies will also have to prove they have planned sufficiently for hybrid working, that senior managers and boards have appropriate governance and oversight, that policies and procedures to reduce the potential of financial crime arising from hybrid working are effective, that there is an appropriate culture in place, and that control functions such as risk, compliance and internal audit can function properly.

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