At Virgin Money we have a clear purpose of Making You Happier About Money and for our colleagues, that means making them happier about work so that they can live their best lives and provide brilliant support to our customers and communities.
The last year and a half has been an extremely challenging time for our colleagues and the communities that we serve. Like many businesses, we have had to transform how we operate so that the majority of our staff can work from home. This, in turn, has enabled us to do a complete reset and think about the right way of working and work/life balance from an unconstrained starting point.
In order to build for the future, it is essential we consult with both our colleagues of today and our colleagues of the future. While we have been conducting and learning from research throughout the pandemic, earlier this year we invited all colleagues, and over 3,000 members of the public to take part in a future of work survey to help shape our vision.
Our results are clear – people want more flexibility and choice for five key reasons:
1. It promotes wellbeing. Among Virgin Money colleagues, 59% believe that greater flexibility will improve their financial wellbeing, 62% think it will improve mental wellbeing, 64% believe it will improve physical wellbeing and almost three in four colleagues (73%) think it will improve their general happiness.
2. It supports carers and better equips them to juggle the competing demands of family and career. Our research found that 71% of carers found it stressful to manage their caring responsibilities when working full-time in a company workplace, but looking to potential options for the future, the vast majority see flexitime (87%), hybrid (79%) or remote working (74%) as good working models that could be beneficial to their work/life balance.
3. It’s reconnecting people with their local community. During the pandemic, 50% of people working from home felt more connected to their local community, and nearly three in five (58%) used local shops and services more, fuelling their local economy. It’s unsurprising then, that nearly three in four (74%) Virgin Money colleagues believe that remote working will be good for communities they live in.
4. It’s giving workers greater flexibility on their geographic location. 74% of overall respondents, including 88% of Virgin Money employees, agree that if their employer or prospective employer allowed them to work anywhere this would be a major pull for applying for a job or staying with a firm. If people have the freedom to work wherever they want, this in turn could have a positive impact on the levelling-up agenda, as people would no longer need to migrate to predominantly Southern cities for work.
5. It can have positive impact on inclusion. 57% of those with learning disabilities and two thirds of those with physical disabilities (66%) see greater flexibility as a good opportunity for their careers.
But our research has also thrown up some challenges, with one in four (23%) respondents noting that they struggle to switch off in flexible working environments, and one in five (21%) 16-24 year olds showing concerns over the impact of greater levels of remote working on their career development.
As a purpose-led bank, we have looked to address these concerns head on and build a model that best suits our workforce and drives them to deliver great customer experiences. But we also know that this is just the beginning.
We know that by turning the traditional working model on its head, there may well be new challenges that we will need to face down the line. If we’re asking colleagues to be flexible, then, as an employer, so should we. That means we will continue to evolve to best meet the needs of colleagues and the communties we serve.