Santander CEO Champions Remote Work Benefits

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Photo Credits: Windows via Unsplash

Remote work benefits are being constantly talked about, given how diverse the opinions of various industry leaders are.

Recently, Mike Regnier, CEO of Spanish-owned bank Santander, has revealed that he would not have accepted his current role if the option to work from home had not been available. He says he “wouldn’t have wanted to be away from home five days a week in London.”

Read on to find out more about Regnier’s stance on working from home compared with those of other business leaders, along with more information about remote work benefits.

To Remote Work or Not to Remote Work?

Mike Regnier has held the position of CEO at Santander since 2022. Thanks to the remote working measures introduced during the Coronavirus pandemic, he has always been able to work from home in Harrogate for two days each week, commuting to the bank’s offices in London for the other three.

The CEO recently told The Guardian newspaper that had this option not been available, he would not have taken the job, as working full-time in London “wouldn’t have been good for the family or for me.” Mr Regnier is openly supportive of flexible working, stating that “I don’t think it’s absolutely vital that people spend all five days a week in the office as they did pre-Covid…”

The CEO’s stance on working from home is reflected across the business, with Santander’s 19,000 employees only being required to attend the office for two days each week.

However, Mr Regnier’s views on remote work benefits appear to be somewhat controversial, with numerous other business leaders having voiced their opposition to flexible working. Last month, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, co-owner of Man Utd, ordered all staff to return to working full-time in the office, stating that anyone who refused could “seek alternative employment”.

Read: Alan Sugar Says He’s “Totally Against” Working Remotely
as it’s “Bad for Learning” in BBC Interview

The practice of homeworking has been dubbed “morally wrong” by Tesla’s co-founder Elon Musk and “an aberration” by Goldman Sachs’ CEO David Solomon. Another outspoken opponent of remote working is Lord Alan Sugar. While promoting the new series of The Apprentice, he told BBC Breakfast that he is “totally against it” and that it is “bad for morale, bad for learning.”

In May 2022, he tweeted: “… all this work-from-home BS is a total joke. There is no way people work as hard or productive as when they had to turn up at a work location.”

Remote Work Benefits: Lesser Distraction, Better Well-Being

Research shows that there are extensive remote work benefits for both employees and employers. Data published by the Office for National Statistics shows that 78% of employees report having an improved work-life balance when able to work from home. Additional remote work benefits cited include fewer distractions, the ability to complete tasks more quickly and enhanced well-being.

From an employer perspective, a study of 597 UK managers conducted by the University of Birmingham indicates that 63% reported an increase in staff motivation for those working from home and 60% believed that flexible working had improved employee productivity. Moreover, better employee work-life balance and well-being are likely to make for a healthier, happier workforce, theoretically meaning fewer sick days and increased employee engagement.

Many UK Employees Feel Remote Working is Non-Negotiable

It seems clear that employees are certainly feeling the advantages of flexible working and are keen for these to continue. According to a survey of 1,500 UK workers conducted by Randstad UK, 54% confirmed that the ability to work from home was “non-negotiable” and 55% stated that they would consider leaving their job if they were required to attend the office more frequently. In terms of what workers considered important in current and future roles, 81% referenced flexible working hours and 69% cited flexible work location.

Read: Managers Believe Flexible Working Improves Productivity, Survey Suggests

Randstad UK’s CEO Victoria Short has warned employers of the risks associated with ignoring these indications. She said that refusing to allow employees to work flexibly could negatively impact a business’s brand and consequently impact talent retention and/or repel potential hires.

Ms Short further states, “[employers] risk haemorrhaging workers and finding it harder – or more expensive – to replace them in 2024.” On this basis, increased likelihood of talent retention and maximising the pool of potential job candidates are additional remote work benefits which employers should take into account.

Employer Recommendations – Making Flexible Working a Possibility

Given the significant remote work benefits and potential risks to businesses, if they fail to embrace these, employers would be well advised to consider their stance on flexible working going forward. The recent introduction of new legislation also means that employers will now be required to consider and consult on flexible work requests from all employees and may only reject these for “genuine business reasons”.

Identify and Implement Remote Work Benefits Suited to Employees

As a first step, it will be important for employers to identify what type(s) of flexible working they may be able to offer employees in different roles and to what extent such options may be exercised.

There are multiple ways in which flexible working may be implemented, with flexibility around work location, working times, and number of hours to be worked all potentially providing a better work-life balance for employees. Each of these should be considered, including whether any measures could be put in place to make each more achievable.

Arrangements such as offering compressed or part-time hours, altering start and/or finish times, implementing job shares, and allowing employees to work from alternative locations are some examples of how employers and employees might reap remote work benefits.

Read: Flexible Working: Making Requests from Day One

Once the remote work benefits have been acknowledged and the options identified, employers should establish a strategy for their implementation and ongoing monitoring. Employers should consider not only how to offer and implement flexible working initially but also how this will work in practice going forward. This includes maintaining communication with employees working from home and monitoring output to ensure continued employee productivity and engagement.

For more advice about flexible working, don’t hesitate to contact the employment law specialists at Redmans Solicitors, who will be pleased to help.

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