Norwegian wealth fund rethinks working week in wake of pandemic

OSLO (Reuters) - Staff at Norway’s $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund will only be asked to come to work at the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, its CEO said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Nicolai Tangen speaks during a press conference on his employment contract as he has been appointed new general manager of Norges Bank Investment Management May 28, 2020. NTB Scanpix/Hakon Mosvold Larsen

Norges Bank Investment Management, the central bank division that manages Norway’s wealth fund, would offer flexible working to its 520 employees in Oslo, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo and Luxembourg, Nicolai Tangen told a parliamentary hearing.

“We are thinking that after the pandemic we will allow up to two days a week of home office and we have two fixed days in the office for everyone for meetings,” Tangen said, adding that this was a way of attracting and retaining talented staff.

The policy would also apply to the rest of the central bank.

“You need to offer flexibility in a different way than before. It is just not acceptable to require people to be in the office all the time. I think it shows that you don’t trust people,” Tangen told Reuters.

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund is among organisations both large and small rethinking ways of working for employees as they adapt to the health restrictions that have upended traditional patterns.

In the finance sector, commercial banks are moving to harness working from home to cut costs, while investment banks want to traders and advisers back in the office.

Tangen also told the hearing that the fund would raise the bar on which companies will be included in its portfolio.

“We will now be doing more screening in advance of small companies, before they are included in the portfolio,” he said.

This will come in addition to a proposed plan to reduce the number of companies in the fund’s global reference index, mostly by cutting the number of small companies.

Editing by Terje Solsvik and Alexander Smith