Schroders includes contractors in new Flexible Working Charter

Schroders has confirmed that its covid-induced ‘Flexible Working Charter’ under which workers are not required to attend the office five days a week, applies to contractors.

The asset management company told ContractorUK on Friday that it is for the individual worker, whether employee or contractor, to decide “when, how and where” they work best.

But the London-headquartered company denied that permanently extending remote working to full-time workers detracts from the flexibility that it once reserved only for contractors.

'Has to work for the worker's clients and colleagues'

A Schroders spokeswoman, who emphasised that a worker’s decision to ‘WfH has to work for clients and colleagues,’ said: “[We’ve] offered flexible working for many years.

“Our new principles are an expansion of that. [And] we believe [the] recent changes enhance our employer value proposition to the entire workforce, including contractors.”

An internal memo at Schroders outlining the policy caveats that the company, founded in 1804, “continues to see many benefits in people coming to the office,” and still values “meeting in person.”

'More effective, more productive'

The government will welcome the caveat, as it today starts a regional advertising campaign to encourage workers to return to the workplace, now that “work from home if you can” is over.

“Ministers are keen for more people to return to offices, not least to boost businesses in town and city centres,” says IT contractor Philip Harris.

“[But] those who have successfully transitioned to working remotely are finding they are more effective, more productive, and have a better work-life balance.”

'Quality of life upgrade'

Chris Herd, founder of Firstbase agrees. “I genuinely believe nothing will deliver a larger quality of life upgrade to individuals over the next decade than this,” he said, explaining:

“Remote work isn't just a reinvention of what currently exists. It's a complete transformation of how we work – but even more importantly around how we live. Working around living.”

A Microsoft recruitment partner Laura Tejada, reflected: “For me, remote working was a game-changer…I became so productive I found I could do my 5-day target in a 4-day week.”

'WfH isn't for everyone'

Adding a cautionary note, Tejada said remote working “isn’t for everyone” and needs “great leaders” to set it up properly. She also said many firms “are doing WfH extremely badly.”

But John FitzGerald, a test manager whose LinkedIn title says he now works “At Home” sounds more than onboard with the remote work revolution, which the pandemic sparked.

“So many opportunities await us if we take time to realise just how fundamental the changes can be if we have the courage, both as companies and workers, to cease them,” he posted.

'Capita, NatWest, Abderdeen, JP'

The manager's online show of support for the office-less environment follows a reported move by Capita to end its lease on almost 100 corporate centres, meaning a third of its offices will close.

The news coincides with NatWest and Aberdeen Standard Life announcing that most of their workers will not return to their desks until next year.

Another financial services giant, JP Morgan, has meanwhile said its staff will be given the option to work half the week from home. The bank did not reply to a request for comment about the impact on contractors.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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