Research reveals UK financial services sector is not prepared for home working

Home working

New figures suggest that the UK financial services sector, including banking, investment and insurance, is one of the least prepared to weather a mass home working strategy.

Leesman has surveyed more than 700,000 employees worldwide. Of the 265,840 of those working in the financial services sector within its index, 56 per cent have no home working experience, compared with 52 per cent of overall respondents globally.

As the UK government now asks even mildly sick people to stay home, leading researchers have suggested British workers who can work from home should be advised to do so, regardless of whether they are symptomatic, to reduce their risk of contracting coronavirus and fuelling the outbreak by spreading it to others. Many British businesses have released Covid-19 contingency plans including compulsory home working policies, and some have begun to close sites and ban external visitors. 
 
But the data suggests the financial services sector must brace itself for reduced productivity and innovation. Of the employees across the industry that do work from home occasionally, 84 per cent typically do so for just one day a week or less, and just 1 per cent work from home for more than four days per week. What’s more, only 40 per cent of sporadic home workers in the industry have a dedicated room to work from.
 
The main risks with home working include a reduced sense of community (-3.8 per cent), social interaction (-3.1 per cent), knowledge transfer (-1.7 per cent) and learning from others (-0.3 per cent). 
 
In light of the actions that businesses are having to take in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Leesman is mobilising research tools that will enable employers across the private and public sector to support the newly remote workforce.
 
The Leesman Index rating, which covers more than 90 indicators of the physical, virtual and social workplace infrastructures, shows how employees are supported and monitors key economic indicators like personal and collective productivity, knowledge transfer and pride.
 
Tim Oldman, Leesman CEO, says: “Home working will undoubtedly prove pivotal in limiting the impact of coronavirus crisis. But the data suggests that many employers and employees across the financial services sector will be out of their depth should British businesses be forced into lockdown. Our advice is for organisations to quickly quantify where their main obstacles will be and seek support. We know how and why corporate offices impact employee sentiment but have significantly less understanding of even the short-term impact of dispersing teams to environments designed for living, not working. Industries must brace themselves, but the financial services sector must remain one of the most cautious.”