NATIONWIDE staff are proving productive under its “work from anywhere” policy – but many still want to go to an office sometimes for human contact, its personnel boss has said.

The building society – which has around 1,200 staff in the Bournemouth area – allows its office staff to work wherever they feel they will be most effective.

Jane Hanson, chief people officer at the building society, said the policy was “going really well overall”.

“Productivity is really good. We’ve have found that we can re-deploy people successfully, so where jobs are changing then we’ve been able to offer different opportunities in different parts of the business to people and where we need to re-focus areas of work we’ve been able to do that,” she said.

“People in our branches have had career opportunities that otherwise would not have been available to them in the past because of location.”

She said where people wanted to go back to offices, it was usually to come together as a team, or for some personal working space and a “change of scene”.

“I think people are still committed to offices but in a different way. Do they necessarily want to come into offices five days a week? Our research has said no, they don’t want to do that, but they would like to come in, whether it's two or three days a week, so they’re getting that balance.

“We’re seeing some teams work together to say ‘What days are you going to be in?’ so they’re coming in together on the same days. We’ve got leaders of teams who are letting their team know that they’re going to be in the office on a Tuesday and Thursday and so if people want some face to face time with their leader, they’ve got some certainty and some consistency in that leader’s pattern of behaviour in terms of coming into offices.

“So it’s still choice for people. I think people do still want to interact with offices but I think it’s just in a different way.”

Her interview with the Daily Echo came as Nationwide published half-yearly results which showed pre-tax profits rising to £853million, from £361m in the same period last year.

The society said the rise was driven by its decision to keep lending at the start of the pandemic while rivals pulled back.

Gross mortgage lending rose by £5.5billion to £18.2bn, although its market share fell slightly from 12 per cent to 11.4 per cent. More than £5bn was lent to first-time buyers.

In a conference call with reporters, Nationwide chief executive Joe Garner said of the “work from anywhere” policy: “Overall it’s going tremendously well and from a wellbeing standpoint we recently achieved Mind’s gold award for the first time.”

“From a productivity standpoint I think we continue to see enhanced productivity as a result of the flexibility that we’ve deployed,” he said.

“The area that we’re paying very careful attention to is how we continue to build our culture of cohesion in a more distributed world. At the moment, for example, one of the things we are seeing is that when people do come back into the office they actually really enjoy it, they go home and they’ve got stories to tell of their day and so on. So we’re kind of, in a gentle way, helping people rediscover some of the positives of coming to the office but overall it’s working really well.”