Seismic shift as Nedbank moves to hybrid work-from-home model

Nedbank has communicated to staff that it plans to shift to a “hybrid workforce model” with a significant percentage of the bank’s employees not working in the group’s offices daily, a move that has been accelerated by Covid-19.

Because of the pandemic, most corporate staff at the largest professional services firms in the country (financial services, legal and so on) have been working from home for over a year already. Some, especially those at executive or senior level, have rotated into a shift system.

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This decision by Nedbank is a significant move and the first among the country’s large corporates. It says its corporate real estate team “reviewed international research that has informed Nedbank’s approach post Covid (new normal), and in line with our new ways of working, is planning on a ‘hybrid workforce’ model”.

Deb Fuller, group executive of human resources, says that for the group “a ‘hybrid workforce model’ means that we will have a portion of our workforce who will remain working from a Nedbank office- or branch-based site, a portion of our staff who will work remotely and another portion of our staff that will follow a blended approach whereby they move between working at home and the office”.

Fuller says the bank’s property portfolio “is planned to accommodate a 60/40 split of onsite/offsite workers which will see only 60% of all the office staff working at the various Nedbank campus sites on any given day”.

Plans brought forward

Already in April (in its 2020 annual report) the bank said it planned, in the next few years, to “optimise the portfolio by enhancing workstation utilisation to greater than 100% (from the current 94%) by enabling flexible office constructs to support more dynamic ways of work as well as leveraging successful work-from-home experiences as a result of Covid-19, while creating further value and cost-reduction opportunities”.

The current announcement to staff indicates that Nedbank has brought forward many of those plans.

It noted that “Covid-19 has fast-tracked the adoption of working-from home-practices, underpinned by appropriate IT support to make this happen, as well as the way we operate” through its new target operating model (TOM 2.0).

Fuller says the group believes “the role of many of our offices has changed”.

“As such, some of our staff will collaborate rather than work from behind a screen, which can be done from home.

“Nedbank’s new ways of working promotes an office environment of innovation and collaboration that consists of activity-based environments that are digitally enabled. Employees will book office space, meeting rooms or seats according to the functions they need to perform while onsite.”

Real estate ‘consolidation’

The bank says it has reduced the number of campus sites (offices) to 26 (from 31 in 2018). It has a published longer-term target of 19, as it pursues its “strategy of consolidating and standardising corporate real estate”.

Since 2016, it has reduced the amount of corporate real estate (office, not branch) floor space by almost 69 000m2. It cut around 15 000m2 last year, following a near 30 000m2 reduction between 2018 and 2019.

Its published medium-term target is to reduce its corporate real estate floor space by over 100 000m2, with a long-term target of 120 000m2.

With the recent announcement, these targets will likely be revisited as the longer-term target could be easily achievable in the next few years.

The group has a total occupied floor space of 625 340m2 according to its Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) report. It continues to reduce the floor space occupied by its branches, which has seen a cumulative 57 000m2 reduction since 2014, equal to nearly 30% of the space occupied at that time.

Read: Concerns about narrow interpretation for home office deductions

Source: moneyweb.co.za