Fund manager Schroders will allow thousands of its employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic, marking a huge shift in the way the City works.
The FTSE-100 listed firm is the first major City institution to tell staff they will not be required to return to the office five days a week.
Its plan to overhaul working patterns was revealed in an internal memo, seen by the Telegraph. Schroders declared a “new approach to flexible working”, allowing workers to choose when they want to be in the office.
Before the outbreak of coronavirus, staff had to be in the office at least four days a week. There will now be reportedly no expectations on how often employees will need to be at their desk, with staff reportedly free to agree working patterns with their respective managers.
In a recent interview, Schroders’ chief executive Peter Harrison said the pandemic had “changed society irrevocably”.
“The contract between society and business has changed forever,” he said. “The office will become a convening place where you get teams together, but the work will be done in people’s homes.”
This is likely to raise fresh fears among government figures that the shift in working patterns triggered by coronavirus will be permanent.
British office workers have been much slower to return to offices than counterparts in France, Germany and Italy according to analysis from Morgan Stanley’s research unit Alphawise.
Just over one-third of UK white-collar employees have returned to work since the lockdown, compared to almost three-quarters of staff in Europe.
Before news broke of Schroders’ shift to remote working, the mayor of London warned that empty offices in the capital are causing a “big problem” for the economy. Sadiq Khan urged big firms to reconsider decisions to stay away in a dramatic change of tact.
“The key thing I think we need to understand is that if we all stay at home working it’s a big problem for central London,” Khan told LBC.
“Many small businesses rely on your workers going to work, the café bars, the dry cleaners, the shoe repair shops and others.”