Free parking, managers' bonuses help Aviva attract back employees

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Free parking, managers' bonuses help Aviva attract back employees

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

Welcome to the modern world of work, where companies, particularly those in finance and technology, are pushing for staff to spend more hours in the office as they try to rebalance the work-from-home trend.

Aviva is one of 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, after the Covid-19 pandemic ended.

In the tech industry, Google, Amazon and Meta have ordered employees back to their desks for most of the week, which has led to a big drive to get staff back in the office.

The number of people who came into the office every month has increased, allowing Aviva to offer its 16,000 British staff to split their time equally between home and the office. The study also found that there had been a reduction in the number of days taken off because of mental health problems.

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

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

This mirrors changing work habits in other parts of the city. Lloyd's of London chair Bruce Carnegie-Brown said, the world's biggest insurance market.

He added: 'I want 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 in late May 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.

However, he added that this should make the main floor'much busier and buzzier', apart from certain roles.

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

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

Collaborating 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 to NatWest Group and the car insurer Admiral, other firms like NatWest Group do not require days in the office. The average day in the office at NatWest was one or two days.

Citigroup, the US bank, has started tracking the office staffing of its 12,500 UK staff, most of them at its Canary Wharf headquarters, who are expected to be in at least three days a week. This could affect their bonuses or even lead to them being sacked, said Bloomberg News.

But at least the strongest backlash against homeworking has come from the very tech companies that benefited from the working from home boom.

Amazon's chief executive, Andy Jassy, said last month that 'it's probably not going to work out for them' unless they came in at least three days a week.