Two days a week in the office is most we can manage, say staff at City watchdog

·3 min read
financial conduct authority office building
financial conduct authority office building

Staff at the City watchdog have told bosses that two days a week in the office is the most they can manage in the latest example of employees pushing back against a return to the workplace.

Members of the “staff consultative committee” at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) told executives that any changes to its hybrid working policy could prove damaging during the cost of living crisis.

The concerns were raised at a meeting of the FCA’s board at the end of June, when the regulator was trialling a policy that required staff to work from the office just two days a week.

In recent weeks, the FCA has established a permanent requirement for staff to work from the office just 40pc of the time over a month, or two days a week on average.

The complaint highlights how workers are now using the cost of living crisis to push back against more frequent days in the office, suggesting they are concerned about the price of commuting more than two days per week.

It comes after a major falling out earlier this year between staff at the FCA and management over controversial pay reforms, which were championed by the organisation's chief executive Nikhil Rathi.

The dispute, which resulted in a small number of employees taking strike action, was focused on a decision to axe staff bonuses and introduce new salary grades that vary depending on location.

Union representatives claimed that the new proposals would result in three out of four employees facing pay cuts of up to 12pc. However, Mr Rathi insisted that the reforms will increase wages for its lowest paid staff.

While many businesses are still allowing staff to work remotely for much of the week, an increasing number of companies in the City of London are urging employees to return to the office on a more permanent basis.

The Bank of England previously came under fire for only requiring staff to work from Threadneedle Street just one day a week. Since June, staff at the Bank have been instructed to work from the office twice a week on average.

There are concerns that long-term hybrid working could have negative effects on career progression.

Catherine Mann, a member of the Bank’s monetary policy committee, previously said that women risk hurting their careers if they continue to work remotely while others return to the workplace.

She said online communication was unable to replicate the spontaneous office conversations which were important for recognition and advancement in many workplaces.

Amanda Blanc, the chief executive of FTSE 100 insurer Aviva, has expressed similar views, saying working mothers could miss out on vital career opportunities if male colleagues are back at their desks while women are not.

Kevin Ellis, PwC’s UK chairman, has also said: “There is no substitute for being with people face to face to test views and make the right judgment calls. Decisions around how much a business is worth or whether its accounts add up are not ones where you want to be second-guessing views on a screen. There isn’t a manual for what work should best be done in person.”

A spokesman for the FCA said: “During our hybrid working pilot, we found that offering colleagues greater flexibility was the best way to work effectively, productively and inclusively.”