More than three-quarters of City of London financial services workers feel they are at least as productive working from home during the lockdown as they were in the office with the lack of commuting commonly cited as a key reason.
The Future of the City survey of financial services employees in the City of London by Deloitte also found that only a small minority of workers (10%) has found working from home to be a negative experience, compared with 70% of workers describing it as positive.
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Respondents cited fewer distractions (54%) and a quieter working environment (52%) as among key reasons for being more productive.
Most of the survey’s respondents who found remote working to be a positive experience gave the absence of the need to commute as their main reason.
This was followed by having more flexibility (43%), being able to spend more time with the family (39%) and having more time to exercise (28%).
Of those who rated the experience as negative, over half (51%) suggested it was due to having fewer face-to-face interactions, followed by the challenges of maintaining a work-life balance (41%) as the border between work and home life has blurred.
Employee wellbeing has also reached a healthier level with more than a third (36%) stating their wellbeing has improved during lockdown, against just under a quarter (24%) who said it has worsened.
Deloitte’s Future of the City study also found that 75% of financial services workers suspected that they would be asked to work remotely for at least one day a week after restrictions are lifted, 43% of staff expected to work from home for more than two days a week. At the onset of the pandemic only 41% and 12% of workers respectively felt that would be the case after lockdown ended.
Some 500 workers who live in London and the home counties answered the researchers’ questions earlier this month. The findings chime with the prevailing thinking that social distancing measures at work will lead to a much reduced commuting workforce and there will have to be permanent changes to working life in the City, where at many firms there was still a culture of long hours in the office and entertaining clients after work.
Deutsche Bank has conducted similar research finding that two thirds of traders and fund managers say they will work remotely for at least one day a week once the crisis had abated.
Margaret Doyle, financial services partner at Deloitte said: “Against the backdrop of all the challenges of home working – from health and financial anxieties to childcare – it is perhaps surprising that financial services employees are finding remote working so positive. Longer term, this forced home-working experiment offers the industry a chance to reflect on its ways of working.”
UK financial services leader at Deloitte Richard Hammell , said: “Even with the extensive use of advanced technology and offshore operations, the activities of the City have centred on direct, in-person working patterns. That model was changing before the lockdown but is now irresistible. The specific in-person aspects of office life most valued by our respondents will never disappear.”
Interestingly, new office construction in London hit an all-time high before the coronavirus pandemic hit, an earlier Deloitte report found.
Work on more than five million square feet of office space began in the six months to 31 March 2020. Some 45 new schemes broke ground in the period according to Deloitte’s London Office Crane Survey Summer 2020.
The survey revealed that the overall amount of office space currently being developed in the capital was 15.3m square feet across 112 schemes. This represented a 29% increase on the previous survey – covering the six months to October 2019 – and was 41% higher than the long-term average. A dramatic decline in new developments was expected to now take place.