Bank of Ireland has today launched a new hybrid working model which will offer its staff greater flexibility as to how and where they work.

The new working model will allow the bank's staff to work from a combination of home and central office locations.

Bank staff will also have access to a network of 11 remote working hubs by the end of 2021.

Four Bank of Ireland hubs at Gorey, Mullingar, Dundalk and Naas were in operation before 2020.

Two new hub locations at Balbriggan and Northern Cross have now been developed and will be open for use in line with Government guidelines.

A further five hubs are planned to be operational by the end of 2021 located in Swords, Blanchardstown, Santry, Newbridge, and Newlands Cross.

Bank of Ireland also said it will expand its existing hub at Naas.

Bank of Ireland said that remote working hubs provide a real alternative to central office locations, enhancing choice and work-life balance by reducing commuting time and costs.

The bank last month said it would close 103 branches in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as the acceleration in digital banking has now reached a "tipping point".

The branches closing are predominately self-service locations that do not offer a counter service, Bank of Ireland said.

The branches are due to close from the end of September.

As a result of the closures, the bank's branch network in the Republic of Ireland will be reduced by 88, leaving 169, while 15 Northern Ireland branches will close, leaving 13.

Bank of Ireland said it had agreed a new partnership with An Post, which will offer customers banking services at more than 900 locations across Ireland.

This will include over the counter cash and cheque lodgements, and cash withdrawals, with longer weekday opening hours than traditional bank branches, as well as Saturday opening.

In a statement today, Bank of Ireland said that about 3,500 employees were working with some degree of flexibility last year.

But the development and implementation of a longer-term hybrid working model was accelerated as a result of Covid-19.

The bank conducted two surveys in May and December last year to get its employees' preference and trends.

77% of staff expressed a preference to work from home between 25% and 75% of their working week.

Matt Elliott, Bank of Ireland's Chief People Officer, said that rethinking the traditional office model has been a key part of a vision for the future of work at Bank of Ireland.

"Covid-19 has accelerated that change. Things won’t go back to how they were at the start of 2020.

"We are going to see less of the old way of doing things, like travelling through rush hour to do something at the office that could easily have been done from home," Mr Elliott said.

"Our network of remote working hubs will provide a real alternative to time and energy sapping commutes. The central office still has an important but different role to play – with large office buildings being redesigned to facilitate meetings and collaboration," he added.

Matt Elliott also said that the introduction of a hybrid model increases accessibility to employees or applicants for roles based around the country and outside urban centres and to those who have caring responsibilities in the home.

"Ultimately, it offers much more flexibility and choice, blending home and office working with less commuting time and cost and a greater work-life balance," he added.