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Lloyd’s chief cheers staff return as City springs to life

Lloyd’s of London expects almost all of its staff to be back in office over coming weeks after its boss highlights importance of face-to-face meetings

Lloyd’s of London expects almost all of its staff to be back in the office over the coming weeks after its boss highlighted the importance of face-to-face meetings. 

The insurance marketplace is operating at around 35-to-40 per cent of its pre-pandemic staffing levels, and chief executive John Neal said he expects this number to double as more workers return this month.

And while many businesses have used the pandemic to cut back on international travel, Neal said he was looking forward to the day when employees could get back on planes to meet their clients and colleagues abroad. 

Innovation: Lloyd’s famous ‘inside-out’ building, towers over London’s Leadenhall Market

Lloyd’s of London has been a key business in the City for more than 330 years, and its famous underwriting room provides a place for insurance syndicates to receive queues of brokers to their desks to haggle over the terms of contracts.

But it was forced to shut out staff during lockdowns earlier this year and last year, and only reopened in May with a much-reduced capacity of a few hundred people. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Neal said: ‘I think that we’ve proved that we can work digitally and do that efficiently. But there is little doubt that there is value in our ability to trade face-to-face and actually travel, to be honest with you – bearing in mind that we are an international and global business. 

‘In our experience if you want people to collaborate, if you want people to be creative, and to connect and socialise, then you do need that face-to-face trading.’ 

Lloyd’s swung to a £1.4billion profit in the first half of the year, from a £400m loss the same time last year. And it paid out £9.4billion in claims over the first six months of the year, largely related to Covid. Neal added that the marketplace had still not decided whether or not to vacate its famous ‘inside-out’ building, which towers over London’s Leadenhall Market.