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Nationwide to allow 13,000 office staff to choose where they work

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Holly Williams, PA Deputy City Editor
·3-min read
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Nationwide Building Society has unveiled plans to allow 13,000 employees to choose where they work and revealed three small offices will shut amid the shift to remote working.

The lending giant said it will put office staff in control of deciding where they are based according to their job once the latest Covid-19 restrictions end, after more than half – 57% – said they wanted to work from home full-time.

More than a third – 36% – said they preferred a mix of home and office-based work.

The mutual said it would close three small leasehold offices in Swindon as it trims the network in response to the shift to remote working.

Around 3,000 employees previously worked at the offices, but Nationwide said they can either transfer to the group’s nearby headquarters in Swindon or work from home under the new flexible policy outlined by the group.

It will also invest in changes to its other offices, including adding more collaboration spaces and fewer meeting rooms, as well as introducing quiet areas and designated walking and cycling routes.

Nationwide added that while its 6,000 branch-based staff are less able to work flexibly, it is looking at ways to “help them better manage their working day around their home lives”.

It is also trialling an initiative in five sites where traditional office-based employees can work alongside branch colleagues.

Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide Building Society, said: “The last year has taught many of us that ‘how’ we do our jobs is much more important than ‘where’ we do them from.

“We have listened and learned, and we are now deciding to move forward, not back.

“We are putting our employees in control of where they work from, inviting them to ‘locate for their day’ depending on what they need to achieve.”

The move comes as companies across the UK are looking at how to tackle the issue of remote versus office working once lockdown ends, with many backing a hybrid model.

Prominent figures – such as Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey – have declared in recent weeks that they believe the five-day-a-week office commute is over.

Nationwide said that three in 10 of its workers believe they are better at prioritising decisions in the interests of customers by working from home.

Nationwide added: “People won’t be forced to return to an office, but anyone who needs a desk in an office can have one – for whatever reason.

“Our offices will become hubs where teams can meet for creativity, social connection and collaboration.”

In a wider report compiled with Ipsos Mori, Nationwide found that 90% of those working from home want to continue doing so at least one day a week, with 60% saying it gives them a better work-life balance.

But the report – which sought views from a raft of major organisations including American Express, Visa, B&Q owner Kingfisher and NatWest Group – also showed that 43% of remote workers need some face-to-face time with colleagues to do their job effectively.