RBC Says Hybrid Work ‘Here to Stay’ as It Eyes Office Return

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Royal Bank of Canada is formulating hybrid, flexible work arrangements for its employees and doesn’t plan any “one-size-fits-all mandate” on how much time its staff will need to be in the offices when they reopen.

“We believe that flexible and hybrid work models are here to stay, and that the role of the office has forever changed,” Chief Executive Officer Dave McKay said in a post on LinkedIn. “This means we’re going to hold onto the best of what we’ve learned over the past 18 months and recapture the best of everything we’ve missed from the pre-pandemic world.”

RBC Says Hybrid Work ‘Here to Stay’ as It Eyes Office Return

Decisions on working arrangements will be made to match employees’ “diverse everyday experiences” and their clients’ needs, with the hope of strengthening the bank’s culture, encouraging collaboration and ensuring employees feel supported, said McKay, who oversees Canada’s second-largest lender by assets.

“Over the next few months, we’ll test and learn as we go and adjust our plans along the way,” McKay, 57, said. “We need to get this right, and we’re confident that client and employee feedback will continue to inform our journey, and that ultimately we will emerge from this crisis even stronger.”

Toronto’s financial district has been fairly quiet since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and in contrast to Wall Street, top Bay Street executives seem to be in no hurry to end remote work.

Some have said the arrangement is surprisingly efficient and profitable, while others acknowledge that many employees have little desire to return to the office five days a week. In addition, Toronto has one of the lowest vacancy rates for top-quality commercial office space among North America’s major cities; remote work may help keep occupancy costs in check.

The Canadian industry’s structure is also a factor. Dealmaking and trading -- lines of business where the need for constant collaboration often means long hours in the office -- are important, but they’re not the dominant earnings drivers for the country’s banks.

“You won’t see any one-size-fits-all mandate from RBC -- we’re just not built that way,” McKay said in his post. “We’re thousands of retail bankers, investment bankers, wealth managers, insurance advisors and tech innovators across the globe, working together every day to improve the lives of our clients and the communities around us.”

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