UBS rolls out hybrid working for up to two thirds of employees

UBS will let two thirds of its employees embrace hybrid working, joining the ranks of European banks taking a softer approach on staff returning to the office after a prolonged period of working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Swiss bank is formalising an approach flagged by senior executives over the past year by allowing the majority of their employees to split their time between the office and home, according to a memo seen by Financial News.

“During the pandemic, we’ve all experienced very different ways of working. For more than a year, many of us largely worked from home, and this continues to be the case in many regions,” said the memo.

“We’re committed to offering you the flexibility for hybrid working — a mix of working from the office and from home — where role, tasks and location allow,” it added, saying it would inform employees if hybrid working was available in their division and country.

The Financial Times first reported the UBS decision.

READ JPMorgan says it could mandate vaccinations in a bid to ramp up office return

Only those required to be in the office due to regulatory reasons, such as those on the trading floor, or whose job requires a physical presence — such as branch staff — are likely to spend all their time in the office.

This approach follows the likes of HSBC and Standard Chartered, which have both unveiled hybrid working practices in the wake of the pandemic. HSBC is looking to reduce its real estate footprint by 40% as a result of the changes.

Former UBS boss Sergio Ermotti said in July last year that up to a third of the Swiss bank’s staff could work from home permanently, which would result in it shrinking office space.

However, Wall Street banks including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley have taken an increasingly tough line on staff coming back to the office.

Both Goldman and JPMorgan have told their employees in the US to reveal their vaccination status in a bid to increase staff numbers in the office, with the latter suggesting it could make getting a Covid-19 jab mandatory for those wishing to return.

READ JPMorgan, Goldman, Deutsche Bank push back wider return to UK office as ‘Freedom Day’ delayed

Morgan Stanley chief executive, James Gorman, said staff in the US should prepare for a return. “If you can go to a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office, and we want you in the office,” he said on 14 June.

However, US bank Citigroup has said that the majority of its employees could spend up to two days a week at home as part of a broad set of new measures unveiled by its chief executive, Jane Fraser, in March.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Paul Clarke

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