A quarter of City workers don’t want an office return post-Covid

One in four City employees wants to continue home-working full-time after the Covid-19 crisis, according to a poll by Accenture.

The consulting firm surveyed 1,406 UK-based workers in banking, capital markets and insurance in mid-June 2021, and found that 24% would prefer to work entirely from home once a full return to the office is possible post-pandemic.

More than a third, or 39% of respondents, said they were willing to forgo compensation to enable them to work fully remotely in the future.

The results comes as the UK government prepares to lift its remaining Covid-19 restrictions, including its work-from-home guidance, for English residents on 19 July.

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London has consistently lagged behind other major European cities when it comes to getting back to in-person work, with more people working from home during the pandemic in the English capital than many peers on the Continent. Companies in the City have also been slower to bring employees back to workplaces.

In the past few months, several prominent UK financial services firm have said they will implement some form of hybrid working, where employees will split their time between the office and their home once the rules allow employees to return the workplace. US banks have, however, been more blatant in their efforts to encourage employees to ditch home-working set-ups, with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley all calling for a return after a sustained period of remote work.

Around 70% of respondents to Accenture’s poll said the introduction of a flexible working schedule would help them adjust to working life post-pandemic, while 69% of poll participants said that they would prefer to work just two days a week or fewer in the office in future.

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Laura O’Sullivan, the UK & Ireland banking strategy lead at Accenture, said the survey findings signalled “loud and clear that the majority of employees at all levels want the pre-pandemic routine to be a thing of the past”.

“The focus needs to move not only to where employees are doing their work, but how they are doing their work,” she said. “It’s about making employees productive wherever they are.”

“We are only at the start of the changes that will be needed in tooling, leadership behaviours and employee experience to make these new ways of working a long-term solution for thriving teams,” she added. “This is a great opportunity to reimagine the employee experience.”

Firms who fail to adequately respond to employees’ needs post-pandemic could face a staff exodus, Accenture’s research found.

One in four, or 27% of those polled, felt that additional pressure from Covid-19 had not been taken into consideration by their employer, while a third, or 34%, said they had considered or are considering leaving their current firm, the consultancy said.

About one in 10, or 13% of respondents, meanwhile, said they had considered leaving or did not intend to return to the financial services industry altogether, with stress and lack of work/life balance cited as motivating factors behind their decision.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Lucy McNulty

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