A Life More Virgin: How Virgin Money is embracing the future of work
Millions of people around the world started working remotely in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But where some employers wanted people back in the office Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, Virgin Money has chosen to create a working environment that allows its colleagues freedom of flexibility beyond what a lot of companies can offer.
Virgin Money recognises that flexible working has the potential to help its people to live their best lives – whether that means being there to pick their children up from school, prioritising their wellbeing by taking some time for themselves, or simply not having to spend an hour travelling to and from work.
“In today's society, things are very complex. People are juggling so much complexity in their lives,” Syreeta Brown, Group Chief People and Communications Officer at Virgin Money, said. “What we're trying to do here as a group is to acknowledge that the world of work has to look human because the people that we need to work in it are human and they're managing all of this complexity. A lot of inclusion happens because of this flexibility – economically, physically, socially. This is an inclusive agenda and allows us to treat people like human beings. It gets rid of the clinical interactions that are part of the traditional model.”
This is why Virgin Money has introduced A Life More Virgin – a values-led approach to flexible working.
Location, location, location
One of the biggest lessons businesses have learned in the last two years has been how easy it is to continue operating even when colleagues aren’t all in the same place.
As such, Virgin Money is saying goodbye to full-time, 9 to 5, office-based roles, and instead, it’s inviting colleagues to work remotely, using offices or stores as hubs for collaboration when needed. Of course, one size doesn’t fit all and flexibility will look different for everyone, but the new approach covers all colleagues – even those working in customer-facing roles in store.
One store colleague has benefitted massively from the new flexibility, which enables them to work one day a week in a different store so that they are closer to their child, who they only get to see at the weekend. “They were travelling for hours after work on a Friday, but now they’re travelling before work because they can work flexibly at a different store,” Francis Lake, Head of Organisation Development at Virgin Money, said. “And the benefit to the bank is the same – if not better because this colleague can share best practice between the two stores. But on a human level, they’re able to spend more time with their family, and that’s what this is all about.”
From now on, wherever possible Virgin Money is adopting a ‘locationless’ approach to hiring – meaning that candidates don’t need to be put off by not living within a commutable distance to a Virgin Money office.
Time away from the office
Perhaps one of the most compelling parts of the new A Life More Virgin offering is the additional time Virgin Money is giving colleagues to focus on their wellbeing. On top of 30 days annual leave, bank holidays and the option to buy an extra week of holiday, Virgin Money colleagues now receive five wellbeing days every year to help them switch off and look after themselves. This means colleagues could take nearly 50 days away from work each year.
“We did a lot of modelling and testing on everything from a four-day week, a nine-day fortnight, to what would it take to give every colleague one day off a month. And what we got to was this combination of looking at a reasonably short contractual working week of 35 hours, with a mixture of 30 days holiday plus five wellbeing days,” Francis said. “We specifically call them wellbeing days because we recognise that work is more intense now. We want people to pay attention to their wellbeing.”
Virgin Money is putting its colleagues’ lives at the heart of its new approach – and it wants to make sure that colleagues can be there for the big moments in life. That’s why the bank has introduced paid family leave for all colleagues from day one. This means that expectant mothers, fathers and those looking to adopt all have access to up to 20 weeks of fully paid leave, whether they’ve worked for Virgin Money for one day, one year or since the beginning.
“One of our colleagues’ wives recently gave birth prematurely. In the old world, he would have been worrying about only having two weeks of paternity leave and how best to use those to support his family,” Francis said. “But now, because he's entitled to 20 weeks off and he can take that flexibly, it removes that stress. He can go and be with his wife and his child and think about work later. It just strips away the worry and enables him to focus on his family for this period.”
It’s not just new parents that are benefitting from this flexibility though. Syreeta joined the team at Virgin Money very recently and in one of her onboarding sessions, she heard an interesting discussion that made her realise the impact of A Life More Virgin. She said: “This colleague had just joined Virgin Money and she was talking about how she was working part-time but didn't want it to affect her career prospects. So she spoke to her manager and asked if it would be possible to increase her hours at some point in the future because she realised that some of these benefits meant that she could work longer, but still have the flexibility to do what she needed to do outside of work.”
Syreeta added: “It made me realise that this is a game-changer for some people on a financial level. Because a lot of parents may think that they have to reduce hours to accommodate caring needs, and now they probably don't have to – they can be there at the school gate, or go to the school play and still work the same hours that they were before, if they want to.”
Follow Virgin Money on LinkedIn to learn more about A Life More Virgin.