London market brokers query hybrid working models, while syndicates ponder whether Lloyd’s blueprint investment will pay off

By Jon Guy

Underwriters and brokers returned to the Lloyd’s building last week to find the Covid screens which have defined the market’s operations for the past 16 months have now been removed.

Jon Guy

Jon Guy

The underwriting room may resemble its more traditional look, but numbers are still well short of pre-pandemic levels.

The view of those in the market is that the ‘new normal’ will not be evident until September, with many firms looking to use the next eight weeks of summer to finalise their working patterns of the future.

In terms of hybrid working systems, brokers say size matters.

For the smaller brokers, the feeling is that the traditional five-day, office-based week will remain, quite simply because they need to maintain their market presence.

For many of the larger brokers, however, a move to three days working in the office and two based remotely has long been a consideration - the pandemic has only enhanced the drive towards this hybrid system.

But one issue has already become apparent – the days of the week that staff want to work from home.

The vast majority of staff are keen to work from home on a Monday and Friday, then head into the City on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

As one leading broker told me last week, the firm cannot allow all staff to work remotely on the same days, as much as they cannot have all staff in the office on the same days, so something will have to give - and some staff will be left disappointed.

Blueprint benefits?

Working patterns aside, the elephant in the room is the Future at Lloyd’s blueprint.

As staff return to the market, questions are already being asked as to when part - or all - of the benefits of the blueprint will be delivered.

Lloyd’s committed over £300m to its blueprint plans and many in the market are asking when they will see the benefit of the huge investment, given that a number of initiatives have not progressed as hoped.

London has a history of failed attempts to deliver process reform and while the blueprint was initially greeted with widespread market support, the pressure is building as syndicates look for tangible benefits following estimates that £150m has already been spent on blueprint proposals.

The UK’s ‘Freedom Day’ was somewhat of a false dawn for the London market – let’s hope the same doesn’t apply to the market’s planned reforms.