Pandemic to disrupt home/office work patterns

Almost three quarters of employees working in financial services rate their working from home experience during lockdown as positive, according to a survey from Deloitte

A poll of some 500 people working across the finance sector found only 10% reported a negative experience.

When asked what made the experience positive, more than three quarters (76%) cited not having to commute as the top reason.

This was followed by having more flexibility (43%), being able to spend more time with the family (39%) and having more time to exercise (28%).

A third (36%) said their wellbeing had improved during lockdown, against just under a quarter (24%) who said it had worsened.

Additionally, more than three quarters (76%) of respondents felt they are as or more productive working from home during the lockdown. This is largely due to less time commuting to and from work (72%), followed by fewer distractions (54%) and a quieter working environment (52%).

Of those who rated the experience as negative, over half (51%) suggested it was due to having less in-person interactions, followed by to the challenges of maintain a work-life balance (41%).

Margaret Doyle, financial services partner at Deloitte, said: ‘Against the a backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown and all the challenges of home working – from health and financial anxieties to childcare – it is perhaps surprising that financial services employees are finding remote working so positive.

‘But given ways of working are likely to be constrained for a while, this is good news.

‘Longer term, this forced home-working experiment offers the industry a chance to reflect on its ways of working.’

Although more than half (55%) of those polled expect their employer to re-open offices by September, working patterns are set to change.

The survey found that the portion of financial services employees who expect to work from home at least once a week after lockdown ends almost doubled from 41% to 77%.

Meanwhile the proportion of those who expect to work from home more than two days a week jumped from 12% to 43%.

Richard Hammell, UK financial services leader at Deloitte said: ‘The specific in-person aspects of office life most valued by our respondents will never disappear.

‘However, the City will need to use this experience to reconsider the employee proposition that underpins the financial services industries. Far from being the death of the City – it’s a chance to shape it for the future.’

There is support for this view from a major global survey of over 40,000 individuals worldwide conducted by real estate services group Cushman & Wakefield, looking at work-from-home experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This found three quarters of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they are collaborating effectively with colleagues in the current environment – up 10% from data gathered during the pre-pandemic period – and 73% of respondents would like their companies to embrace long-term or permanent flexible working policies.

Brett White, executive chairman & CEO of Cushman & Wakefield, said: ‘It’s imperative to recognise that the workplace will no longer be a single location, but an ecosystem of a variety of locations and experiences to support flexibility, functionality and employee wellbeing.

‘That said, we expect current real estate footprint sizes to remain steady.

‘Flexible working practices may result in fewer people in the office at any one time, but that space-saving is offset by the need to accommodate social distancing in the office.’

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