Irish-based banks rule out return to five-day office week

Staff likely to work three days a week remotely, survey finds

The Republic's domestic banks and lenders operating in Dublin's international financial services hub have ruled out a return to a five-day office week following the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey carried out by KPMG Ireland.

KPMG said that none of the 11 banks surveyed, which account for 90 per cent of continuing Central Bank of Ireland-regulated credit institutions in the State, expect their staff to go back to a full working week in the office.

The survey was carried out in December, before the Government moved late last month to lift most remaining restrictions and call for a phased return by people to the workplace. It excluded the likes of Ulster Bank, KBC Bank Ireland and IFSC-based Depfa Bank, which are in wind-down mode.

“The preferred model of working outlined by [chief executives] is a hybrid model, with expectations that C-suite executives and department heads would spend the most time in the office, at least two to three days, while other less senior staff are expected to spend more time working from home,” KPMG said. C-suite refers to management positions that carry a “chief” title.


Bank of Ireland, the largest employer in the sector in the State, with 9,200 staff as of June, said last week that its office and hubs were at 35 per cent capacity on Monday, January 24th, the first working day after the Government eased restrictions – and that it planned to increase capacity over a number of weeks.

“We already had a hybrid model in place prior to the pandemic, and this will continue,” said a spokesman. “Our hybrid working model means less of the old way of doing things, like travelling through rush hour to do something at the office that could easily have been done from home.”

‘Supportive’ AIB

AIB, which had about 9,000 full-time equivalent staff as of June, issued an internal email on Friday saying that the lender would maintain a hybrid working model.

“Given that restrictions have lifted, this hybrid model will build incrementally over the coming weeks with colleagues returning back to the office, and we will be supportive for any of our people who may need to make arrangements from a personal perspective,” a spokesman said. “We will be updating our staff as we continue to progress our plans.”

The KPMG survey found that banking chiefs expected more than 50 per cent of staff below department head level to work at least three days a week remotely.

“Perhaps as a direct consequence of this, the majority of banks plan to reduce their geographical footprint in 2022,” KPMG said.

Some 64 per cent of industry chief executives said they planned to further develop partnerships or alliances with fintechs as a priority, recognising the opportunity that such arrangements may present in expanding their customer propositions, the firm said.

Fintech ‘agility’

Industry players said that the lower regulatory burden faced by fintechs, as well as their perceived “agility” and digital capacity, posed the main threat to mainstream banks.

More than a third of banks stated that enhancing their digital offering was a high priority, with 10 per cent saying that this had already been done and a further 27 per cent saying it was a medium priority.

“International banks that have set up in Ireland to access the EU market post-Brexit will continue to migrate their products and customers to European customers in Dublin in 2022, with several international banking CEOs confirming M&A as a possible route for further expansion,” KPMG said.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times