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Coronavirus: 700 Lloyds staff to work from home in 2021 despite vaccines news

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CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 02: A Lloyds banking group sign at a call Lloyds call centre in Cardiff on May 2, 2019 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
A Lloyds banking group sign at a call Lloyds call centre in Cardiff. Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) is to redeploy 700 employees into full-time working from home positions in 2021 despite the UK approving a COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK’s biggest lender already has 50,000 of its 65,000 staff working from home due to the pandemic.

Previously, it temporarily moved about 1,000 workers from Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland branches to customer service teams, in order to cope with a surge in demand in areas such as telephone banking and video chats during COVID-19.

“All colleagues will need to be able to work from home for the customer services role,” according to documents seen by the Guardian.

Employees may still be asked to come into the office for special occasions including team meetings. The bank said that “eligibility to meet the criteria needed to work from home” will need to be met on an “ongoing basis”, adding “please consider this carefully when making your preference.”

According to the documents, the remote working option presented “opportunities for colleagues to help better manage their work-life balance.” Meaning that employees will not have to live near one of Lloyds’ call centres in cities including Leeds, Liverpool or Belfast, in order to apply for the jobs.

A Lloyds spokesperson said it was shifting employees in response to customer behaviour: “We are asking our branch colleagues if they would like to make a move from their branch role to one in our customer services teams.

“This means we can have the right amount of support in the areas our customers want it.”

One of the group’s staff unions, Accord, welcomed plans to redeploy branch staff to remote working customer service roles, saying it would help save jobs. “Working from home in the long term isn’t suitable for everybody but we’ll work to ensure that there are support services in place to help everybody to make a success of this positive initiative,” it said.

So far, the group has announced around 2,000 job cuts since September as part of its restructuring plan.

READ MORE: BP sells its London head office as it shifts to low-carbon energy

It comes as around 75% of City firms are reviewing their real estate footprint following the demand in remote areas brought on by the pandemic.

In a sign that big banks are embracing remote work, NatWest (NWG.L) has told 50,000 of its roughly 60,000 employees will continue working from home at least until April 2021, when it will allow for more flexible working.

Barclays (BARC.L) has also said that it is reviewing the amount of office space it uses after seeing 30,000 of its 50,000 employees effectively work from home.

Other banks, including Standard Chartered (STAN.L) are also moving to flexible working on a permanent basis, after a pan-bank review of all jobs that showed 80% across the business are suitable for “hybrid” working.

The bank’s staff are able to apply for the preferred way of working from early 2021. This applies to its 2,000 staff in the capital — where about 10% of workers have been going into the office since the onset of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, US lender bank JP Morgan (JPM), which has 19,000 staff in the UK has raised concerns about the impact of remote working, including the lack of mentoring for young staff and a small drop in productivity on Mondays and Fridays. Despite that, JP expects up to 30% of its roughly 257,000 global workers to work from home in future, at least part of the time.

Watch: Why job losses have risen despite the economy reopening

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