A British digital bank is to allow its staff to work for up to 120 days a year overseas — the latest sign of the revolution that is taking place in employment practices following the pandemic.
Zopa told staff they could work remotely abroad for an extended period without any change to their pay, making the online-only bank one of the UK’s most flexible employers.
The move is an expansion of a policy Zopa introduced a year ago, when it said staff could work abroad for as many as 90 days a year. It has identified 13 countries — including Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Bermuda and Barbados — where employees could base themselves without facing onerous tax, legal and right-to-work obstacles. It will also review other locations on request.
“We recognise the world of work is changing,” Helen Beurier, Zopa’s chief people officer, said. “The concept of work-life balance is no longer relevant. There isn’t really a difference between work life and your personal life.”
Zopa was founded in 2005 as a peer-to-peer lender but has since converted into a bank. Almost all its 560 staff are based in London.
Working practices, particularly for many white-collar jobs, have been transformed by the coronavirus crisis. Businesses from law firms and accountants to banks were surprised by the success of the sudden shift to remote working forced upon them when the pandemic erupted in 2020 and lockdowns began to be imposed.
Many now have adopted policies that allow staff to work at home for at least part of the week, helping to cut overheads by reducing office space and enabling employees to avoid commutes and work around family commitments.
Along with Zopa, other businesses that have gone further by offering staff the chance to work remotely overseas include Revolut, the fintech group, which allows employees to work for 60 days in a year anywhere in the world, and Ocado, the online grocer, which said last year that staff could spend a month a year wherever they choose.
Beurier said that since Zopa had let employees work for up to 90 days abroad, 34 staff had taken up the offer — and had used the majority of the benefit available. Some senior staff will not be able to take up the opportunity, however. Beurier said it would be “extremely difficult” for managers deemed by City regulators to be “material risk-takers” to go overseas.