Nearly one-in-four Scottish financial services workers would prefer to work fully remote in the future, according to new research from Accenture.
The study, which surveyed nearly 200 Scotland-based financial services employees across banking, capital markets and insurance, found that 21% of workers would prefer to work entirely from home even after a full return to office is possible.
A vast majority (70%) of respondents also said they would prefer to work just two days a week or less in the office while only 5% hope for a full return.
Notably, flexible working schedules were the preferable setup among financial services employees. More than two-thirds (69%) said this would play a key role in helping them to adjust to working life in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stuart Chalmers, Head of Financial Services for Accenture Scotland said the research highlights a changing perception of work routines among financial services workers.
“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,” he said.
“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,” Chalmers added.
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While many Scottish financial services workers hope for a change in working practices, the research revealed that a significant proportion (66%) of Scottish workers are unaware if remote or flexible work initiatives will be offered by their employers.
Similarly, only 31% said they are aware of whether their employer will begin offering flexible working at all.
Across the rest of the UK, 59% of financial services employees said they are unaware if their employers intend to offer flexible work initiatives.
Accenture’s research revealed a small gap with regard to a flexible working perception among Scottish and rUK workers. (Should this just be UK?)
Employees in Scotland were more likely (64%) than their UK-wide peers (57%) to believe that their workplace and role could not return to “pre-Covid normal”.
More than one-third (39%) of Scottish employees also said they would forgo compensation if it meant they could work fully remotely.
Overall, Accenture said the research showcases an increasingly positive relationship between the employer and employee in Scotland’s financial services sector.
An overwhelming majority (88%) of workers feel they have the support they need to balance work and other life commitments. Similarly, around one-quarter said that employer support in this regard has increased since the onset of the pandemic last year.
Scottish financial services employees also believe that working from home had been an all-around positive experience.
Over half (56%) said they had been more productive working at home and 69% agreed that losing their daily commute had given them more free time.
“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,” Chalmers commented.
“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.”
Despite highlighting a range of positives, Accenture’s study does reveal the negative impact of current working routines.
Nearly one-third (29%) of financial services employees felt that additional pressure from Covid-19 had not been acknowledged or taken into consideration by their employer.
Around the same proportion (29%) have also felt disconnected or forgotten by their employer.
As a result of this, 30% said they have considered – or are considering – leaving their current company. Of these, 29% revealed this would be for another career opportunity while one-in-ten do not intend to return to the financial services industry altogether.
“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,” Chalmers insisted.
“We’re only at the beginning of the process needed to make these new ways of working a long-term solution for thriving teams.”