NGSU, in communication with HR magazine, acknowledged the complexity surrounding the debate on the balance between office and remote work within the organisation. This complexity has resulted in inconsistencies in the approach to this matter.
In 2021, a staff survey revealed that 56% of Nationwide staff expressed a preference for permanent remote work, while only 6% favoured a complete return to the office. In response, Nationwide initially implemented a flexible work policy, allowing employees to choose their work location. CEO Joe Garner emphasised the importance of how work is done over where it is done, putting employees in control of their work environment.
However, in August 2022, new guidance suggested that staff should aim to spend at least one day a week or 20%-40% of their time working from the office, depending on the nature of their roles. Presently, employees have been informed of a minimum requirement of two days a week in the office.
Staff should aim to spend at least one day a week or 20%-40% of their time working from the office
Nationwide’s spokesperson assured HR magazine that the organisation remains committed to hybrid work, stating that the new policy provides clarity and consistency. The change, agreed upon with the Nationwide union, allows for exceptions and a transition period of nearly four months.
NGSU expressed concerns in their newsletter, noting the challenges faced by employees, especially those who relocated significantly during the “work from anywhere” policy. The hybrid work guidance of 20%-40% was reportedly not consistently adopted, resulting in confusion and low compliance. The newsletter also highlighted that the benefits of collaborative and social interaction in office settings may not be immediately evident to all returning employees.
The shift in Nationwide’s policy coincides with continued high interest in remote and hybrid work among job seekers, according to research from Indeed, which indicates a tenfold increase in searches compared to pre-pandemic levels. Another study from Flexa found that, on average, 305 workers apply to every remote job advertisement.