The bank has confirmed that it will open offices from 21st June but subject to restriction in England being lifted. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland haven’t yet set out their timescales for lifting current restrictions. The bank has told staff that: “you’ll be under no pressure over the summer period to come into an office if you don’t want to – there is no rush and it’s important everyone approaches this at a pace that’s right for them. For the time being, we’re focusing on ensuring that the space is there for those that want it”. We welcome that very important commitment from the bank but will wait to see what that means once summer is over.
Members will be discussing their needs with line managers over the next few days and weeks. If you feel under any form of pressure to go into the office, contact the Union’s Advice team as soon as possible. Whilst the vast majority of line managers have accepted the reality of home working – and have proven very good at managing staff remotely – there are some who are still stuck in the analogue age and can’t wait to get back to the office.
In a recent BTU survey, 63% of staff said that they would like to work from home for 3+ days a week. Only 5% said they wanted to go back to the office full time. The bank has said that it’s looking at a new hybrid model of working which it will be testing over the summer. The bank has also said “a one size fits all approach” is not the way forward. Whilst there needs to be as much flexibility as possible that has to be based on some underlying principles which apply to all staff. We agree that one size doesn’t fit all but treating all Lloyds staff equitably should be possible regardless of size. We propose that those underlying principles should include:
- Staff being given the option to spend up to 3 days a week working from home if they want to.
- Staff should also have the option to work from local offices or hubs rather than being required to work from their pre-pandemic place of employment.
- A commitment from the bank that it will maintain current salary levels and will not use the fact that staff are working from home – for up to 3 days a week – as an opportunity to reduce salary levels over time. In most cases their salaries are driven by costs where they live as much as where they work.
- A commitment from the bank that it will not use any surveillance tools to monitor staff whilst working from home. In our most recent survey, 89% of staff said that their line managers trusted them to work remotely from home. Once we are out of lockdown, some line management behaviours may change and trust levels may begin to deteriorate. We are aware that some organisations are using firms such as Time Doctor, which takes screen shots of workers’ screens and offers “optional webcam features” to take pictures of staff at home every 10 minutes. There is no suggestion that the bank is considering employing such services, but we want it to commit to never using such surveillance technology to monitor what staff are doing.
- The bank should remove locations from any internal job adverts with immediate effect given that geography is no longer a factor regarding where many staff can work. Such a move would open up career opportunities to those staff who can’t apply for roles currently because they don’t live within commutable distance of the bank’s main locations.
On the back of the pandemic, Lloyds has said it intends to reduce its office footprint by around 20% over the next three years, including 8% in 2021. That’s going to save the bank a significant amount of money. Whilst many staff will benefit from home working, both financially and in terms of work/life balance, the bank should consider spending some of that money on benefits that apply to all staff, like for example, more holidays. Just a thought!
Members with any questions on this newsletter should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).