Danske Bank is the latest big business to reveal how working practices will change permanently following its Covid-19 experience.
Millions of workers worldwide are currently operating from home as governments attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus through lockdowns, but this could become the norm. Danske Bank, for example, sent around 19,000 staff home to work.
Companies including Barclays Bank and IT services giant Tata consultancy Services have already publicly stated that changes brought in to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 are here to stay.
“The Covid-19 experience of sending [thousands] from the office to work from home will now have a lasting impact on how work is structured and conducted at Danske Bank,” said the bank.
According to Chris Vogelzang, CEO at Danske Bank: “This experience has proven that there is so much untapped potential in the virtual workspace that we need to explore and use to create a more attractive and flexible workplace, while still maintaining the inspiration, energy and social connection that comes with belonging to a physical team and environment.”
In the post Covid-19 world, Danske Bank will offer staff the option of working from home one to two days a week and will invest in digital collaboration tools and platforms.
The bank’s chief operating officer, Frans Woelders, said this is just the start: “The past months have really taught us that work is not a place, it’s an activity. We are going to explore many different initiatives and solutions, but if we want to see a long-lasting change, we need to start already and ask all of our colleagues to join us in this.
“We are now stating very clearly that even as society is slowly returning to a kind of normal, we should bring along some of our new habits and the flexibility that comes with working from home, just as we should naturally prioritise virtual meetings and collaboration over travels.”
Most office workers are now used to using video-conferencing technology such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, with managers seeking quick fixes for remote working. The unintentional proof of concept has meant businesses have seen the benefits of using these technologies going forward.
Danske Bank joins a list of multi-nationals that have stated that there will be no going back to working practices that saw packed offices, with virtual working adopted.
Jes Staley, CEO at Barclays Bank, which has 85,000 staff, said the company will change how it thinks about its locations, commenting that “the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past”.
Meanwhile, Indian IT services giant TCS said 75% of its 450,000 workers could work from home in the post-Covid-19 world. N Ganapathy Subramaniam, chief operating officer at TCS, recently said the company is expecting to have only a quarter of its staff working from offices by 2025. “We don’t believe we need to have more than 25% of our workforce at our facilities to make all the 100% productive,” he added.
Stanton Jones, director and principal analyst at ISG, recently said organisations will have to be able to engage customers and employees in both physical and digital worlds, with the ability to switch between them seamlessly.