25 Mar 2021

People power: 13,000 employees put in control as nationwide rolls out ‘work anywhere’ approach

  • Society instils Work, Meet, Recruit, Live Anywhere ethos as it asks employees to ‘locate for their day’
  • Employees say that remote working is leading to better outcomes for customers and colleagues
  • Nationwide CEO Joe Garner: “We’ve listened and learned, and are now deciding to move forward not back”
  • Society convenes major businesses to discuss Future of Work as part of report with Ipsos MORI

Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, is enabling its 13,000 office-based employees to do their jobs from anywhere in the UK as it puts them in control of how they balance their work and home lives.

The move comes after Nationwide employees were surveyed on how they would like to work in future, with just six per cent saying they wanted to work in an office five days a week and more than half (57%) wanting to work from home fulltime. More than a third (36%) want a blend of home and office work.

As a member-owned organisation, Nationwide’s ‘work anywhere’ approach is focussed on how people can do their best work rather than where they are based. Early data shows that remote working is seen by many to have benefits, with 30 per cent of employees saying that they are better at prioritising decisions in the interests of members by working from home.

Joe Garner, Chief Executive of Nationwide Building Society, said: “The last year has taught many of us that ‘how’ we do our jobs is much more important than ‘where’ we do them from.  We have listened and learned, and we are now deciding to move forward, not back. We are putting our employees in control of where they work from, inviting them to ‘locate for their day’ depending on what they need to achieve. Our data suggests that working in a home environment encourages us to think more about the impact on others when making decisions. As a member-owned organisation, we encourage a focus on humanity, while embracing technology. We are also continuing to invest in some of our office space to foster social contact, collaboration and creativity.”

Nationwide has teamed up with Ipsos MORI to launch a Future of Work report, to better understand the impact of the pandemic and the opportunities it has opened up. The Society convened a number of the UK’s biggest and most respected organisations to share views on the issue2. They included: Accenture, American Express, Boston Consulting Group, Blackrock, Building Societies Association, Capital Credit Union, Consumer Panels, Coventry Building Society,  Green Square Group, Hedley May, IBM, Infosys, Kingfisher, KPMG, LV, Money Saving Expert, Nationwide Foundation, NatWest Group, NHS, Pimco, Publicis Sapient, Vanguard and VISA.

The report, which uncovers a number of major findings1, reveals nine in ten (90%) of those working from home want to continue doing so at least one day a week, with six in ten (60%) saying it gives them a better work-life balance. However, there also remains a real need for meeting in the physical world, with 43 per cent of remote workers needing face-to-face time with colleagues to do their job effectively. Among other topics, the report shines a light on workplace inequality, a worrying Covid ‘generation gap’ where young people are disadvantaged and the challenges faced by many with households unsuited to homeworking.

To enable people to work in the most effective way, Nationwide is continuing to invest in offices, ensuring they are suited to a work culture focused on colleague-led flexibility and choice. More collaboration spaces, fewer traditional meeting rooms and a range of wellbeing measures such as quiet areas and designated walking and cycling routes will be in place.

However, a reduced need for physical space means Nationwide no longer requires the additional capacity offered through the leasing of three offices in Swindon. The Society’s headquarters, Nationwide House, alongside major administration centres in Northampton, Bournemouth and the recently opened Post Building in London, are unaffected by the changes. The opening of a new tech hub at Ramsbury House, also in Swindon, last year will ensure the Society retains a strong footprint in its hometown and nationally.

Recognising that flexible working is more difficult for branch colleagues, Nationwide is working with employees to understand what would help them better manage their working day around their home lives. The Society is currently trialling an initiative across select branches where employees traditionally based in offices work alongside branch colleagues – breathing new life into branches and their respective communities.

Notes to editors

1 Ipsos MORI interviewed 2,208 UK adults aged 16-75, interviewed online 8-12 January 2021”

2 The major findings of the report are:

  1. Workplace equality set back by the pandemic:
  • Women took on lion’s share of childcare, and were more likely to lose or quit jobs during pandemic.
  • People from ethnic minorities have taken a bigger financial hit  and, as they are more likely to be key workers than white people, are more at risk of contracting Covid.
  1. Urgent action needed to close Covid ‘generation gap’:
  • Younger generations are much more likely to be furloughed or lose their job.
  • Almost half are worried about job prospects, amid reports that recession will hit lifetime earnings.
  1. From stay at home to go to work? Tensions over future of remote working:
  • Gen Z need to spend more face-to-face time with colleagues to do their job properly, but they also see their working week shared between the office and home.
  • People don’t think their employers will let them work at home as much as they’d like to.
  1. Working from home presents challenges as well as opportunities:
  • One in five remote workers lack the space or technology to do so productively.
  • Just over half of UK workers need to be onsite[i] – potentially opening up a new employment divide.
  1. Revenge of the suburbs: a chance to level up?:
  • People and communities will gain from a more flexible work model.
  • Death of the city centre may be exaggerated, as large employers encourage workers back to the office.
  1. We need to manage the unpredictable impacts of WFH on the environment:
  • Emissions from commuting fell dramatically but higher energy use at home may outweigh savings.
  1. Employee trust and empowerment will drive new ways of working:
  • Office hierarchies have been transformed by the pandemic, as decision making was delegated.
  1. Inclusivity and wellbeing top employers’ people priorities:
  • Zoom fatigue: remote working brings new wellbeing challenges.

[i] https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/the-future-of-work-after-covid-19#