50,000 RBS staff to work from home until at least September

More than three-quarters of Royal Bank of Scotland’s 65,000 staff will continue working from home until at least the end of September, the lender has announced.

The decision to keep more than 50,000 staff at home was revealed in a memo sent by the chief executive, Alison Rose, to all RBS employees on Thursday morning.

However, about 400 workers whose jobs include handling sensitive data have been asked to return to offices and call centres next month.

Since the lockdown started, approximately 10,000 RBS employees have continued to work in some offices and in branches, albeit with reduced hours. About 95% of branches have remained open.

However, their numbers are to be bolstered by a further 400 staff “whose jobs cannot be done from home for operational reasons”.

These are people working in what the bank described as regulated roles, often handling confidential client data, who could not continue to operate away from the office for prolonged periods. They will be asked to return in June to work in the bank’s offices and call centres.

However, RBS said strict physical distancing and others safety measures would be in place to protect staff.

“These include limits of two people per lift, thermal imaging and temperature checks at building entrances, and one-way corridors. Hot desking has been temporarily banned, and there will be at least one empty desk in between persons to ensure social distancing,” the memo states. In areas where distancing is not possible, screens have been put up.

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RBS, which includes the NatWest brand, also revealed data that showed how being home-based had changed how people work. It said on 15 May there were nearly 5.5m video conferencing minutes racked up across more than 40,000 meetings. Remote-working levels peaked this week, with 52,000 people logged in remotely on 20 May.

Rose said: “We are now thinking about the most effective way to operate in the medium term.”

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