Friday, 28 April 2023 10:53

WFH: A Lack of Foresight

In recent months, American banking giant JP Morgan has demanded that their senior managers return to working five days per week in the office. This has been followed in the UK by a curb on flexible working by Lloyds Banking Group who now expect employees to spend at least 40% of their working week in the office.

Lloyds have also moved to scrap their compressed hours policy, which allows workers to effectively cram the hours for ten working days into nine giving a nine-day fortnight, with a ‘pilot scheme’ in a couple of its divisions. Unsurprisingly the bank is suffering something of a backlash from disgruntled employees.

Living through Covid lockdowns is gradually fading in people’s memories but managing employees back into the workplace following the great Working From Home revolution has remained a significant issue for many organisations. Businesses saw the short term benefits of cost savings on property expenses that WFH enabled without considering the longer term consequences of a dispersed workforce.

At HR Champions, we were always clear to tell our clients that any options they introduced for their employees to work from home should be classed as benefits, thus retaining a degree of control. Many companies however were too keen to make new flexible working conditions an employee right, and are now they are struggling to take them away again, and are suffering the consequences.

It’s hardly surprising that businesses trying to force through these changes are facing an employee backlash. Many employees have taken quite a liking to working from home. There’s no commute, childcare is easier and there’s more time for family. The washing can get done during the week and there’s no dress code.

Employers on the other hand, are seeing the disadvantages more starkly. A memo from JP Morgan’s operating committee included "Our leaders play a critical role in reinforcing our culture and running our businesses. They have to be visible on the floor, they must meet with clients, they need to teach and advise, and they should always be accessible for immediate feedback and impromptu meetings.”

Workers at Disney in the US have had to work four days per week in the office since March after Chief executive Bob Iger made clear his view that, “face-to-face collaboration is key to a creative business like ours".

There’s no doubt that from most employers’ points of view, the benefits of employees working in the office far outweigh those of working from home. Apart from the obvious advantages of training and learning, supervisory direction and company standards, there are the more intangible benefits that sharing a workplace offers, such as:

  • The transmission of ideas and information, almost by osmosis
  • Instantaneous communication and therefore problem solving
  • Creativity and a space for ideas to ignite
  • Reading the body language and visual clues of others
  • Team bonding
  • Spontaneity

With still over one million vacancies in the UK, employers may fear losing employees if they insist they must return to the workplace. However, the wider workplace economy might be slowly waking up to the fact that WFH isn’t a panacea and, actually businesses need employees to be on site.

Whilst the banking industry looks like it’s taken the option of waving a fairly big stick to get its employees to return to the workplace, at HR Champions, we see the most effective tool in the employer’s armoury is effective Leadership.

As business leaders, we need to role-model the behaviour that we want and expect our employees to follow. We must be present, decisive and effective so that our employees “buy-in” to who we are and to the culture of the organisation; the shape of which is always going to be influenced from the top, down.

Employees should be reminded of their accountability and that they’re part of a team with colleagues who rely on their performance. Holding regular meetings where individuals are asked to share their achievements could be a good place to start.

In the meantime, if you would like some personalised advice or if you want some more information on our excellent Leadership & Management training call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 933 times Last modified on Tuesday, 08 August 2023 09:39


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

We deliver excellent management and soft skills training suitable for all organisational levels. We are ILM and City & Guild accredited and Ken Blanchard approved.  





We are located in Gloucester in the West of the UK close to the M4 and M5 corridors. For a precise map and directions find us on Google Maps

We have clients all over the UK but predominantly within about an hour's drive time of our offices; in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Swindon & Wiltshire.