UK finance firms revert to home working as government advice shifts

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Banks and insurers in Britain have ordered hundreds of staff to work from home home again, just days after many tried to encourage employees back to the office, following fresh guidance from the government.

Up to 1,000 Barclays staff who had returned to office-based working in recent weeks will revert to working from a spokesman for the bank told Reuters on Tuesday.

French lender Societe Generale said it is also “adapting its position in line with UK government guidance”, without stating the number of workers recently returned to work in its London offices who will now stay home.

Two other big British lenders told Reuters they will also likely reverse recent return-to-work moves for non-essential staff.

Lloyd’s of London asked its employees in the UK on Tuesday to work from home following guidance from the government, though its trading floor will remain open for market participants a spokesperson said in a statement.

Goldman Sachs said in an internal memo on Tuesday its UK headquarters will remain open to staff who need to remain in the office.

“You are reminded that the wearing of masks is required at all times in the office, except at your desk,” chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs International Richard Gnodde wrote in the memo.

Around 22,000 Barclays staff have remained working in its offices worldwide throughout the pandemic, as designated key workers needed to keep the financial system ticking over.

Of the roughly 1,000 more who had begun to return to work worldwide, hundreds based in Britain will resume working from home, the spokesman said, with others potentially following suit if local advice changes in other countries.

Banks, including Barclays, had begun to return more staff to office-based working, mainly in Britain where the government had earlier encouraged people to resume their daily commutes.

More lenders are also expected to tell all but essential staff to work from home, a source at another big British bank said on Tuesday, asking not to be named.

Some banks, including NatWest Group, have told staff they can work from home until next year.

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