Working from home looks set to become a permanent arrangement for some bank staff as branches continue to close, but so far just one major bank is offering to subsidise the extra costs that means for workers.
While those branch closures are an added pressure for bank workers, the wider move to remote working spurred by Covid-19 will raise similar questions in other industries: who pays for the home office, for heating, power, broadband charges and any other costs associated with turning your home into your workplace?
More than 20,000 people work in New Zealand's banking sector, where Covid-19 has fast-forwarded changes to an industry that had already come under immense pressure in recent years.
ASB and BNZ have both announced major branch closures in recent weeks, with BNZ planning to close 38 branches by mid-2021 and ASB closing 23 branches by February.
Both banks have said the closures won't result in job losses. But that means workers will have to find a new place to work from.
Asked whether staff will have to work from another branch, another non-branch location or will be permanently asked to work from home, both banks were vague in their responses.
A BNZ spokesman said it was consulting its people and key factors such as their role, branch and where they are located were being taken into account on a case-by-case basis.
"We have a large number of BNZ employees already working from home throughout New Zealand and we regularly survey our people to understand how flexible working arrangements are working and what more we can do to support them."
He said BNZ staff overwhelmingly supported increased flexibility and the option of working from home.
"We continue to expand the ways in which BNZ can support them to do so. In addition, we've recently asked all our employees who are working from home to complete a self-assessment so that we can identify any extra support they need."
Craig Sims, ASB's executive general manager retail banking, says Covid has taught it a new way of working.
"Our branch changes are about freeing up our people from standing behind a counter to be able to respond to more customers in different ways, whether that's from home, a nearby branch, or another ASB location."
First Union finance workers' representative Callum Francis says each bank is handling the working from home situation differently.
"BNZ has proposed that people who are more than a certain distance away from a location or another branch, if their branch is closing - they be able to work permanently from home."
He says both banks have told workers they need to have an independent space or separate room for work, with a door they can close because of privacy issues.
"One of our biggest concerns has been for people in shared living arrangements - they have flatmates or other people that aren't part of their family or potentially other family members that work in industries or with customers that they might be dealing with."
Francis says for people without the necessary extra space, working from home could become much more complicated.
"I don't believe any of [the banks] have necessarily addressed actual work space but I do know at a base level they do require a separate room. But for these guys who are running out of options, it is going to be much more complicated if they don't have that sort of space."
Working from a bedroom or a dining room table might be doable during a pandemic emergency, but longer term it presents challenges.
Francis says the union has a strong expectation that workers are provided with all the equipment they need.
Most banks had come to the party by providing laptops, keyboards and monitors, but the union is also pushing for chairs, desks and any other equipment needed for work.
Francis says that so far BNZ is the only bank proposing to help workers with the extra costs of working from home, such as extra power use and internet charges.
A BNZ spokesman confirmed that it is discussing with staff how it can contribute towards household utilities such as power and broadband where required.
ASB's Sims says the bank has well-established systems to support its people to work remotely, providing the necessary equipment and access to technology so they can work seamlessly from home or an ASB location, or a blend of the two.
But he did not answer the question of whether the bank would pay for extra utility costs associated with working from home.
Francis says he is not aware of any offer from other banks to subsidise workers' utility costs.
"The common argument we hear from employers is, well, if you don't have to travel and you don't have to pay for parking or bus fare then you are already saving money, so why would we give you more money to save money?
But that is beside the point, Francis argues. "You are encroaching on people's personal space. Their home is no longer their home, it is also their premises, it's also their place of work.
"We keep asking for that to be recognised and for people to be compensated appropriately for the extra costs."
A Westpac spokesman says none of its branch closures have resulted in staff working permanently from home.
"Individual business units are taking a flexible approach to working from home, depending on the role and needs of their team. Flexible working is voluntary and no employee is required to work from home."
He says that while the bank does not pay an allowance for working from home, it works with individual staff to make sure they have all the equipment they need to maintain a comfortable and safe environment at home.
An ANZ spokeswoman says that while it has closed some branches since the start of Covid, no staff were required to work from home. "We do offer flexible working but it is entirely optional."
She says the bank did not need to supply office equipment or pay an allowance because no branch staff were required to work from home.
Francis says that alongside the move to work from home came a change in bank workers' roles, with many being redeployed to handle call centre work.
"They honestly feel a bit betrayed because when we talk about being redeployed, they are not normally being redeployed into another branch - they are being redeployed to work for the contact centre."
He says while the banks see the role of working in a branch and answering the phone as being similar, the union strongly disagrees with that view.
"Being on the phone, dealing with call after call coming through, normally from a dial-up, where you don't have much down time between calls is very different from meeting people face to face where you get that human interaction, that contact and you have also got all the body language cues and you can actually see someone in a very different environment.
"The members that have come through with feedback just said they feel very disappointed and kind of betrayed that the organisation has just said you will no longer work in a branch, we will keep you, but you are going to have to be a contact centre worker."
Francis says many branch workers now have a hybrid role - dealing with inquiries in a branch, and also with phone/online queries.
While both ASB and BNZ have said there will be no job losses as a result of the branch closures, Francis says the reality is probably a little different.
"Their intent is to refrain from, and make sure people have work but there are some people that don't want to work in the contact centre and there will be some people that don't want to work from home. So there will be some job losses."
He says the union hopes the banks will be able to offer more than just call centre work.