Standard Chartered has signed a global deal that will allow staff to work away from central offices in one of the biggest steps towards permanent flex
Standard Chartered has signed a global deal that will allow staff to work away from central offices in one of the biggest steps towards permanent flexible working at a major financial firm.
The agreement with serviced office network IWG allows the London-based bank’s 95,000 employees access to 3,500 offices around the world for a trial period of 12 months. This will give them the option to work in more convenient locations closer to home while benefiting from office facilities.
It follows comments from HSBC’s chief finance officer Ewen Stevenson in October that its 230,000 staff could adopt ‘hybrid working’ practices including ‘two or three days in the office, two or three days at home’ in future.
New direction: A leaked memo revealed in November that Standard Chartered was considering providing ‘near home’ work locations for staff
A leaked memo revealed in November that Standard Chartered was considering providing ‘near home’ work locations for staff that could gradually increase numbers working flexibly by 2023. Chief financial officer Andy Halford also recently said he believed that soon ‘the word ‘office’ will become a bit of a thing of the past’.
In a statement sent to The Mail on Sunday last night announcing details of the new plan, Halford said: ‘There are many positive opportunities for productivity, employee experience, and inclusivity from flexi-working.
‘However, our enforced absence from the office has highlighted the benefits that we and our clients get from face-to-face interactions, the value of physical workspaces and the important role of the workplace for our wellbeing.
‘We hope this partnership will provide suitable alternatives to working from home and from the office, enabling our employees to work closer to clients, colleagues and their teams, as well as reducing commute time, travel costs and our individual and collective carbon footprint.’
Mark Dixon, founder and chief executive of IWG, said firms have been taking ‘a gradual step towards hybrid working’ but Standard Chartered were moving to a more ‘radically employee centric approach’.
He added: ‘One of the biggest pain points identified by workers globally is the commute and Standard Chartered – by acknowledging the importance of helping employees achieve a better work-life balance as well as significantly reducing their carbon footprint – is demonstrating a modern, forward-thinking outlook, that shows they are in touch with their people’s needs.’
London’s financial institutions were among the first to get staff to work from home when the crisis hit. In a recent survey, the proportion of investment banks preparing to allow staff to work remotely for at least some of the time after the pandemic rose to 75 per cent in September. That compared with 42 per cent in June, according to a survey of 250 financial services organisations in London by Worldpay owner FIS.
Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Halifax and Royal Bank of Scotland, has had around 50,000 of 68,000 working from home. It is understood to have given some branch staff the option of working from home permanently.
City advisory firm Deloitte, which employs 19,000 people in the UK, said last year it was not going to renew property leases at four of its 50 offices and said the rest would be constantly reviewed. This meant that 500 staff would have the opportunity to work remotely full-time.
Financial firms are also driven by a desire to recruit talented staff attracted by increased flexibility.
It is also likely some companies will seize the opportunity to drive cost savings and could mean some offices close or are sub-let.
German giant Deutsche Bank and US investment bank JPMorgan Chase have both said they are considering permanent increases in flexibility.