Two days a week in the office is the most we can manage, according to city watchdog staff

City watchdog staff told bosses two days a week in the office was the most they could manage in the latest example of employees pushing back a return to work.

Members of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) ‘staff advisory committee’ have told executives that any changes to its hybrid working policy could prove damaging during the cost of living crisis.

The concerns were raised at an FCA board meeting in late June, when the regulator was testing a policy that required staff to work from the office just two days a week.

In recent weeks, the FCA has established a permanent requirement for staff to work from the office only 40% of the time over a month, or two days a week on average.

The complaint highlights how workers are now using the cost of living crisis to fight more frequent days in the office, suggesting they are concerned about the cost of commuting more than two days a week.

It comes after a major row earlier this year between FCA staff and management over controversial pay reforms, which were championed by the organization’s chief executive, Nikhil Rathi.

The dispute, which resulted in a small number of employees going on strike, centered on the decision to scrap staff bonuses and introduce new pay scales that vary by location.

Union representatives have claimed that the new proposals will lead to pay cuts of up to 12% for three out of four employees. However, Mr Rathi insisted the reforms will raise the salaries of his lowest-paid staff.

While many businesses are still allowing staff to work remotely for much of the week, a growing number of businesses in the City of London are urging employees to return to the office on a more permanent basis.

The Bank of England has previously come under fire for only requiring staff one day a week from Threadneedle Street. Since June, Bank staff have been instructed to work from the office twice a week on average.

Some fear that long-term hybrid work will have negative effects on career progression.

Catherine Mann, a member of the Bank’s monetary policy committee, previously said women risked career damage if they continued to work remotely while others returned to the workplace.

She said online communication was unable to replicate the spontaneous office conversations that were important for recognition and advancement in many workplaces.

Amanda Blanc, chief executive of insurer FTSE 100 Aviva, expressed similar views, saying working mothers could miss out on vital career opportunities if their male colleagues are back at their desks while women are not. .

Kevin Ellis, Chairman of PwC UK, also said: “There is no substitute for being face to face with people to test their views and make the right decisions. Decisions about how much a company is worth or whether its accounts add up aren’t the ones you want to guess views on a screen. There is no manual on what work is best done in person.

An FCA spokesperson said: “During our hybrid working pilot project, we found that providing colleagues with greater flexibility was the best way to work efficiently, productively and inclusively.”

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