While Lloyd’s has been looking at ways in which it could reopen the underwriting room on a limited basis in the weeks to come the London market is set to take a more long-term approach.
Talk is that the Lloyd’s Market Association has met the proposal for the underwriting room being reopened with at best a gentle “we don’t think so”. The view is that whilst the Society can take steps to reopen the underwriting floors, the firms and their staff will vote with their feet and quite simply stay away.
Outside of One Lime Street the company market and the brokers have been rapidly adjusting to life at home and the period of remote working has already had an impact that will be felt long after Covid-19 is no longer seen as a threat.
The majority of the firms that Wise Guy has spoken to say that at present it is expected they will not look to “invite” staff to return to their offices until September.
However, that invite will be just that with staff set to be offered the opportunity to remain working remotely if they have concerns over their health and safety.
Already firms are looking seriously at the shape of their businesses after the pandemic, with many already drawing up plans to reduce the number of staff which are physically in the office.
The plans at present are based around the challenges of maintaining social distancing and, if the office structure will be redesigned for a two metre buffer between staff, there is every likelihood once distancing is ended it will not see an influx back to the office.
As one CEO told Wise Guy: “If the UK government say we can return to work with social distancing on Sunday we will not be asking any of our staff to do so. There are few if any staff who would feel comfortable returning to packed trains, tubes or buses for their commute and we will not put staff under any pressure to do so.
“We are not planning for any meaningful return to office work until September.
“I cannot see any of my staff getting on an aircraft for the rest of the year for work and we would be reluctant to allow them to physically attend any conferences.”
They added: “The feedback we have had is that we have staff who have really seen a benefit to working remotely both in terms of what they can achieve and their work life balance. We are not the only firm to see this and I believe that once the pandemic is over the way in which we work will be very different to what it was at the start of the year. We expect the number of staff in the office to be permanently reduced.”