Lloyds Bank sets up 'wellbeing desks' for staff struggling to work from home

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
Lloyds Banking Group's chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio poses for photographers outside the Lloyds Banking Group headquarters in central London, on January 9, 2012, on his first day back at work after a prolonged period of absence due to fatigue. AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT (Photo by CARL COURT / AFP) (Photo by CARL COURT/AFP via Getty Images)
Lloyds Banking Group's chief executive António Horta-Osório. Photo: Carl Court/AFP via Getty Images

Lloyds Bank (LLOY.L) has flagged big changes in the way its staff will work in future, promising more working from home for those who want to and “a better work life balance.”

“We think there will be flexibility in the future depending on people’s functions and depending on people’s wishes so that they can have a better work life balance,” chief executive António Horta-Osório said on a call with journalists on Thursday.

“It is also more productive and engaging for them to work. We are considering ways of adapting that going forward.”

The bulk of Lloyds’ staff are currently working from home and Horta-Osório said a poll of employees found two thirds would like to continue doing so even after the pandemic eases.

“At the start of March we had the capacity for about 15,000 colleagues to work from home. But within three weeks we had ramped this up to 45,000,” he said. “Today we have around 50,000 colleagues, out of a total of 68,000, so two thirds of the total group, they are working from home safely and effectively.”

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Horta-Osório said Lloyds was aware that some people struggled to work from home. The bank has set up “wellbeing desks” in 12 locations across the country that adhere to social distancing rules and are available to staff who can’t or don’t want to work from home.

“We have colleagues that for whatever reason, they wish to come into the office sooner,” he said.

The shift towards more home working could ultimately lead the bank to reduce office space.

“In the longer term, we will be working to understand what the future of work and the office looks like,” Horta-Osório said.

“While we recognise there will always be a need for offices, as more of our colleagues are able to work flexibly and remotely we are becoming less reliant on office space.

“The type of office space we will need in the future is likely to change to reflect changing working styles.”

READ MORE: Lloyds CEO: Coronavirus 'exposed underlying inequalities in society'

However, offices will not disappear completely.

“When people work together that fosters innovation, that continues to support the culture and the values of the company,” Horta-Osório said. “When you hire new people, those people need to be with other people in order to get to know everyone.”

He added: “No decisions or commitments have been made at this stage.”

Lloyds staff are being told to work from home if they can until at least September. Horta-Osório said staff would only return to the office when government advice allowed it and health and safety concerns were satisfied.

Horta-Osório’s comments came as Lloyds reported worse-than-expected first half results. A £2.4bn ($3.1bn) charge to cover expected credit losses linked to the pandemic wiped out profits at the bank.