World’s largest building society tells its staff “you can work anywhere”

Photo shows: Nationwide's Swindon HQ
Nationwide Building Society

Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, which has its headquarters in Swindon, says its 13,000 office-based employees can to do their jobs from anywhere in the UK.

But the building society isn’t planning on giving up all its offices, but wants them to be more collaboration spaces, fewer traditional meeting rooms and a range of wellbeing measures such as quiet areas and designated walking and cycling routes will be in place.

The reduced need for physical space means Nationwide no longer requires the additional capacity offered through the leasing of three offices in Swindon. The Society’s headquarters, Nationwide House, alongside major administration centres in Northampton, Bournemouth and the recently opened Post Building in London, are unaffected by the changes. The opening of a new tech hub at Ramsbury House, also in Swindon, last year will ensure the Society retains a strong footprint in its hometown and nationally.

The move comes after Nationwide employees were surveyed on how they would like to work in future, with just six per cent saying they wanted to work in an office five days a week and more than half wanting to work from home full time. More than a third want a blend of home and office work.

As a member-owned organisation, Nationwide’s ‘work anywhere’ approach is focussed on how people can do their best work rather than where they are based. Early data shows that remote working is seen by many to have benefits, with 30 per cent of employees saying that they are better at prioritising decisions in the interests of members by working from home.

Joe Garner, Chief Executive of Nationwide Building Society, said: “The last year has taught many of us that ‘how’ we do our jobs is much more important than ‘where’ we do them from.  We have listened and learned, and we are now deciding to move forward, not back. We are putting our employees in control of where they work from, inviting them to ‘locate for their day’ depending on what they need to achieve. Our data suggests that working in a home environment encourages us to think more about the impact on others when making decisions. As a member-owned organisation, we encourage a focus on humanity, while embracing technology. We are also continuing to invest in some of our office space to foster social contact, collaboration and creativity.”

Nationwide teamed up with Ipsos MORI to launch a Future of Work report, to better understand the impact of the pandemic and the opportunities it has opened up. The Society convened a number of the UK’s biggest and most respected organisations to share views on the issue. They included: Accenture, American Express, Boston Consulting Group, Blackrock, Building Societies Association, Capital Credit Union, Consumer Panels, Coventry Building Society,  Green Square Group, Hedley May, IBM, Infosys, Kingfisher, KPMG, LV, Money Saving Expert, Nationwide Foundation, NatWest Group, NHS, Pimco, Publicis Sapient, Vanguard and VISA.

The report, which uncovers a number of major findings, reveals nine in ten of those working from home want to continue doing so at least one day a week, with six in ten saying it gives them a better work-life balance. However, there also remains a real need for meeting in the physical world, with 43 per cent of remote workers needing face-to-face time with colleagues to do their job effectively. Among other topics, the report shines a light on workplace inequality, a worrying Covid ‘generation gap’ where young people are disadvantaged and the challenges faced by many with households unsuited to homeworking.

Recognising that flexible working is more difficult for branch colleagues, Nationwide is working with employees to understand what would help them better manage their working day around their home lives. The Society is currently trialling an initiative across select branches where employees traditionally based in offices work alongside branch colleagues – breathing new life into branches and their respective communities.