Free parking, manager bonuses help Aviva return to office

Free parking, manager bonuses help Aviva return to office

Free parking and changes to manager bonuses have helped Britain's largest insurer, Aviva, lure staff back to their desks for most of the working week.

In the new world of work, companies, particularly in finance and technology, are pushing for staff to spend more days in the office, with the aim of rebalancing the work-from-home trend.

Aviva is among a growing number of banks, insurers and fund managers trying to bring workers back for at least half, if not most of the working week, long after enforced working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic ended.

Google, Amazon and Meta have ordered their workers back to their desks for most of the week, resulting in a big drive to get staff back into the office.

Aviva's 16,000 UK staff split their time equally between home and the office but said the number of people who came in to the office had increased every month this year. There have been a decrease in the number of days taken off due to mental health problems, the report said.

The move happened after Aviva's chief executive, Amanda Blanc, decided to add senior managers' ability to get their teams back into the office in their end-of-year performance assessment, on which bonuses would be based.

The company has also dropped its parking fees in Norwich, Birmingham, Sheffield and other UK sites, with the exception of London, to help staff with the increasing cost of living and encourage their return to the office.

This contrasts with changing working patterns in other parts of the city. Bruce Carnegie-Brown, chair of Lloyd's of London, said it is the world's biggest insurance market.

He said he wanted to see people working in Lloyd's building in the City at least three days a week - not just Tuesday to Thursday - to avoid a situation where people were taking 'long weekends' every week, as he worried that Mondays and Fridays were not properly covered for clients.

Lloyd's closed its Underwriting Room last month to revamp it, installing better technology, seating and lighting, and will reopen it next week. Carnegie-Brown wants representatives from all 85 insurers that are members of the market to be present throughout the week on the main ground floor.

It should make the main floor'much busier and buzzier', he said, apart from certain roles,'much busier and buzzier'.

The London-based fund manager M&G, who was spun off from insurer Prudential four years ago, said it expects its senior staff to spend an average of three days a week in the office so they can be with their team and clients.

Lloyds Banking Group has been offering free hot rolls, fruit and drinks in some of its offices to draw staff back, and has asked that they come in at least two days a week.

Collaboration effectively is difficult, if a team are below strength on certain days of the week or if some key people are only available at times when the majority are not, said Charlie Nunn, the bank's chief executive.

In contrast, other firms such as NatWest Group and Admiral do not require days in office. NatWest said it was average for employees to spend one or two days in the office.

Citigroup has started tracking the office attendance of its 1,500 UK staff, most of them in Canary Wharf's Canary Wharf headquarters, who are expected to come in at least three days a week. This could affect their bonuses or lead to them being sacked, said a memo seen by Bloomberg News.

But some tech firms that benefited from the working from home boom have had a tough time fighting back against homeworking.

Andy Jassy, Amazon's chief executive, told US staff last month that if they come in at least three days a week, it's probably not going to work out for them.