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Italy's Unipol ditches working from home to boost productivity

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Unipol bank is seen in Rome
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MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's Unipol decided on a full return of staff in the office to raise labour productivity in the face of rising costs, the head of the country's second-largest insurance group said on Friday.

The Bologna-based insurer in October asked all employees to return to the office starting from Nov. 4 after allowing them to work remotely during the COVID-19 lockdowns, in a move that has sparked protests from trade unions.

Banks and insurers globally are gauging how to manage the return of staff to their offices after the coronavirus outbreak forced groups to reorganise their work models, with most allowing employees to work remotely.

"Considering expectations on inflation, companies need to return to full productivity. This is the reason why we decided for a full return of staff (back in office)", Unipol Chief Executive Carlo Cimbri told analysts in a post-results conference call.

Cimbri warned that an extended use of remote working could hurt labour productivity, already hit by higher input prices.

"This is something companies just cannot afford right now", he said.

Italy's top insurer, Generali, is adopting hybrid working, with staff spending time in the office as well as working from home.

In July Italian bank UniCredit said it would allow its non-branch staff globally to work from home for up to two days a week on average once the health crisis was over.

(Reporting by Andrea Mandalà,)

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