FCA shares guidance for remote and hybrid workplaces

By Robert Scammell

The Covid-19 pandemic forced businesses to adopt remote working practically overnight. Many are continuing with flexible work arrangements as economies reopen. Now, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published guidance for businesses to help meet their “regulatory responsibilities” while operating a remote or hybrid workplace.

The FCA said the remote work “expectations” apply to existing firms, firms applying to be regulated and firms proposing to submit further applications.

The list is not legally binding and the FCA said businesses should evaluate their remote and hybrid working setups on a “case-by-case basis”.

Existing businesses going fully remote should be able to demonstrate that the lack of a central office location won’t have an adverse impact on the business, employees, consumers or the market.

The remote work arrangement must also not impede the FCA and regulators from receiving information and conducting their work.

“It’s important any form of remote or hybrid working adopted should not risk or compromise the firm’s ability to follow all rules, regulatory standards and obligations, or lead to a failure to meet them,” the FCA said.

Businesses should also prove that they have properly planned their remote or hybrid working setup. The FCA provides 12 pieces of advice, including:

  • A plan has been reviewed before making changes permanent
  • There is appropriate governance and oversight
  • Risk, compliance and audits are unaffected
  • Cybersecurity measures are considered
  • Appropriate record-keeping continues

Depending on legal requirements, companies may also be required to notify the FCA of changes to the way they operate.

The FCA provided separate guidance for businesses that are applying to be authorised or registered, including:

  • Making arrangements for consumer access
  • Where FCA visits should be done
  • Plan for FCA visits to be done at a place of residence
  • Continuity plans for home Wi-Fi disruption
  • Consider the legal implications of a remote business

“[Office work] will not be the same after Covid-19,” a recent GlobalData thematic research report stated. “Physical spaces will be transformed, and remote working, supported by technology, will become the norm for millions of employees.”

The full list of the remote work guidance can be found on the FCA’s site here.