A survey of nearly 200 Scotland-based financial services employees across banking, capital markets and insurance found that 21 per cent of workers would prefer to work entirely from home once a full return to office is possible amid the relaxing of coronavirus restrictions.
The vast majority (70 per cent) said that they would prefer to work just two days a week or less in the office. Just 5 per cent would favour a return to five days a week in the office, according to the study by Accenture.
A flexible working schedule, in relation to hours and days worked, was the number one initiative workers wanted from their employers, with 69 per cent saying that this would help them adjust to working life living with the virus.
A higher proportion of employees in Scotland (66 per cent) than the rest of the UK (59 per cent) do not know if such initiatives will be offered in their workplace and only 31 per cent are aware of whether their employer will begin offering flexible working.
Overall, the research points to a positive employer/employee relationship within Scotland’s financial services industry, which supports about 160,000 jobs in financial and related professional services areas.
The overwhelming majority (88 per cent) feel that they have the support they need to balance work and other commitments. About one in four (24 per cent) say that support has increased since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.
In a positive sign of how the health crisis has impacted work culture, 60 per cent said their employers had become more considerate of employee mental health.
Nevertheless, the desire for a more flexible approach to work moving forward was clear from the survey results. Employees in Scotland are more likely (64 per cent) than their peers UK-wide (57 per cent) to agree that their workplace and role could not return to pre-Covid “normal” and more than a third (39 per cent) would forgo compensation if they could work fully remotely.
More than half of respondents (56 per cent) said they had been more productive working at home and 69 per cent agreed that ditching the daily commute had given them more free time.
Stuart Chalmers, head of financial services for Accenture Scotland, said: “As Scotland’s financial services companies develop their future working-from-home policies, this research suggests that a majority of employees at all levels don’t want simply to go back to pre-pandemic routines.
“This presents both challenges and opportunities for firms in Scotland thinking not just about where employees are doing their work but how they are working too. While working from home has opened up new possibilities for talented people to locate north of the Border, how they are enabled to be productive is crucial.
“The sector has a big opportunity to reinvent physical workspaces, complemented by digital environments, to drive collaboration with colleagues throughout the UK and shape positive workplace cultures post-pandemic. However companies must work hard to ensure that the technology investments they are making to support home working is matched by cultures of change that support employees to feel supported and included.”