NatWest preparing for just 13% of staff to work in office full-time

Bank will allow most staff to split time between home and office under post-pandemic remote working rules

Last modified on Tue 1 Jun 2021 13.12 EDT

NatWest Group is preparing for a future where just 13% of staff work from the office full-time, as it becomes the latest major business to plan new remote working rules beyond the pandemic.

It means that about 8,300 staff will be expected to commute to the lender’s offices and branches daily, leaving the rest of its 64,000 employees to split their time between home and office, even after the government’s work-at-home orders are lifted.

One in three of the bank’s staff – more than 20,000 workers – will be able to live and work anywhere in the UK and have to attend their office in person only two days a month.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’, as not every role is the same,” the NatWest chief executive, Alison Rose, told staff last week.

“Some roles, and some people, will need to be back in the office 100% of the time – that’s just the nature of the role; they cannot be done from home,” Rose explained. This group includes data centre workers, traders and some branch staff.

“Other people will be able to work remotely the majority of the time, and for others there will be a hybrid solution.”

In a third pattern of working, which will be the most common, 55% of staff will adopt a hybrid of home and office working. This option will be offered to many of the bank’s customer-facing staff, who are increasingly dealing with clients via videolink.

The plan means 32% – or roughly 20,400 staff – will be “remote first.”These workers can live anywhere in the country but must spend a minimum of two days in the office a month.

The three-tier plan was first reported by Reuters.

The move is not part of immediate office closure plans, according to a NatWest spokesperson. However, they confirmed that the lender’s property footprint is always under review.

The corporate world has become increasingly split over home working. While firms such as NatWest are embracing changing habits, others including Goldman Sachs have called remote working an “aberration” and expect staff to return to offices as soon as government guidance allows.

HSBC and JP Morgan both said in April that thousands of staff would work from home permanently, while the accountancy firm EY told its 17,000 workers that they will be expected to work from home for at least two days a week even after restrictions lift.

In March, PwC said in March that it would let workers stay at home for half the time, while KPMG expects employees to only work two days in the office per week.

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