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Finance workers ignore requests to return to the office, study finds


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Finance workers are often ignoring company rules on the number of days they must be in the office, according to a report sponsored by some of the UK’s biggest financial institutions.

The study by the non-profit group WIBF (Women in Banking and Finance) and the London School of Economics found that employees want more flexible work as they reject presenteeism in favor of productivity.

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Finance workers consider flexibility, rather than the need to meet a quota of days in the office, more in line with team-level efficiency, according to the interview-based study.

The pandemic has prompted many companies to consider new ways of working, many adopting more flexible approaches but with a certain number of days that employees are expected to be present in the office.

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The report said the shift to “remote-first” work, in which working from home is the top option for most employees, had no impact or a positive impact on productivity.

It added that this “highlights that while at senior level executives at many large companies are asking employees to come to the office a specific number of days a week, in practice they are being ignored, with managers often favoring remote work. as a first approach, provided it satisfies local operational needs”.

The study, based on interviews with 70 women and 30 men in London’s financial sector and carried out by the LSE, covered business banking, asset management, professional services, fintechs and insurance.

The researchers interviewed employees of various levels of seniority at companies including Bank of America, BlackRock, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, NatWest, Schroders and UBS.

Grace Lordan, director of the LSE’s Inclusion Initiative and author of the report, said workers were growing frustrated at being told to go into the office to simply join a Zoom call.

“Companies that require their employees to be in the office for no reason will miss out on diverse pools of talent,” she said. “These demands are also ego-driven rather than the best interests of the company.”

The study found that women, in particular, prefer a more flexible model of work and indicated concerns that overly rigid approaches to working in the office would deter female employees.

Anna Lane, president of the WIBF, said, “I believe that managers who require their female employees to stick to a strict three, four or five day schedule will lose women to competitors who don’t.”

The report was conducted in conjunction with the WIBF’s Accelerating Change Together research program, which seeks to better support and retain women in financial services.

The program is sponsored by Aegon, Baillie Gifford, Barclays, BlackRock, Citi, The Cumberland, EY, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, LSEG, Moody’s, Morgan Stanley, Santander, TD and Schroders.

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