Britain's Nationwide tells all 13,000 staff: 'work anywhere'

LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) - Britain’s Nationwide Building Society has told all its 13,000 office-based staff to work from anywhere in the country, in one of the clearest signs yet firms are making permanent the remote working arrangements put in place during the COVID-19 crisis.

The lender said on Thursday it will not renew the leases on three of its offices in its hometown of Swindon in the southwest of England but will retain its headquarters there along with other regional hubs.

Nationwide’s move goes even further than some British banks such as HSBC and Lloyds, which have said they will cut office space but are likely still to require staff to come in on some days.

The bellwether mortgage lender’s decision to slash office space is a further sign of how companies are taking advantage of the success of remote working to cut overheads.

Nationwide said it will continue to invest in offices by installing more collaboration spaces, with fewer traditional meeting rooms and well-being measures such as quiet areas.

Branch-based staff will still work in those locations, Nationwide said, with some of their formerly office-bound peers able to join them.

Britain’s second-biggest provider of home loans, Nationwide competes with high street banking rivals but unlike them is owned by its customers.

The lender last year offered redundancy packages to around 200 staff with a view to around 100 accepting them, Reuters reported, as it seeks to reduce costs. (Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)