BNP Paribas has told London-based staff it will track their entry-gate swipes against logins to the bank’s computer network to ensure employees meet targets for working from the office, a staff memo seen by Reuters shows.
The 25 September notice to staff in the French bank’s London unit said the policy would enable it to “more accurately track space needs on a team-by-team basis” and ensure adherence to “working requirements and fairness across teams”.
“This is not a question of trust”, said the memo – which was not personally signed by any BNP executive – but the changes would allow the bank to identify and support workers finding it difficult to meet on-site working requirements.
A spokesperson for BNP confirmed the authenticity of the memo but declined further comment. BNP employs more 4,500 people in Britain, with London regarded as its “second headquarters” after Paris, according to its website.
Employees across industries working in large cities have been reluctant to reprise long commutes after lengthy phases of working from home during Covid-19 lockdowns. Many say working outside the office supports greater productivity and job satisfaction.
But bosses are worried corporate culture is slipping and junior employees are missing the chance to learn skills by interacting with experienced colleagues.
Earlier this year, JP Morgan staff inundated an internal messaging forum with criticism after its operating committee posted an edict entitled “The importance of being together”.
BNP’s memo, presented in the format of a Q&A, said staff would not be able to opt out of the tracking. It did not give any indication of when the policy took effect.
The bank’s USA & Canada divisions have also updated their policy to include “visibility into in-office presence of staff monitoring”.
There was no direct reference in the memo to the bank’s French workforce, where the majority of its employees are based.
A Data Protection Impact and Legitimate Interest Assessment were conducted prior to the policy launch and staff monitoring for business purposes was permissible per its standard employment contract, the bank said in the memo.
“Many of our competitors have already implemented similar measures,” it said.
While it sympathised with staff whose commutes were impeded by adverse weather or industrial action affecting London’s public transport systems, the memo advised staff those days would still count as “in office” working days.
Staff approved to work from home in these instances are expected to “make up time in the office” to achieve their individual percentage of required onsite working hours per month.
The bank said it would consolidate each workers’ data and feed reports to senior managers for review. The managers would decide if action against staff failing to meet targets was necessary.
“Attending the office is not merely to demonstrate that you’re working particular hours but to facilitate better working relationships and collaboration with colleagues,” the memo said.
Sinead Cruise – Reuters