3,000 O2 staff take part in biggest ever flexible working pilot


Operator shuts Slough HQ today with 3,000 staff working remotely to highlight the benefits of flexible working

O2 has today shut its head office in Slough with a quarter of its 12,000 employees participating in a flexible working pilot in a move the operator said was the biggest of its kind.

The pilot aims to explore what is possible through flexible working and will underpin O2’s contingency plans to manage likely travel disruption during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

O2 said careful planning has been needed to ensure that 3,000 employees have access to the necessary technology tools, services and support to enable them to work completely remotely for the day.

It added it hoped the pilot will also showcase the wider economic business case for flexible working in helping to drive efficiency, productivity and innovation.

O2 will evaluate reductions to electricity usage, CO2 emissions and travel time as employees swap their usual journey to work in favour of working from a remote location.

The learnings will be applied in line with the company’s three year sustainability plan, in which O2 is aiming to help over 125,000 business employees work flexibly, and save over 500,000 miles of travel and more than 160,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

Research from O2 has shown that while more than a third (39 per cent) of businesses say that allowing staff to work more flexible hours makes their workforce more productive, and 43 per cent believes that it helps retain employees, existing policies are often outdated and ineffective.

Seventy seven per cent of organisations are hindering the sharing of best practice by preventing staff from working flexibly across teams, while 16 per cent still have no flexible working policy at all.

O2 business director Ben Dowd (pictured) said: “Today’s office-wide flexible working initiative is an opportunity for us to take the next step on our flexible working journey and tangibly demonstrate the opportunity and potential available to British businesses today.

“We practice what we preach, and by asking O2 employees to work together as a team to test the company’s flexible working practices for themselves, we want to show that there are no limits – no matter how big or small your business is.

“By sharing experiences from across our business, from business divisions to operations, we hope to encourage more organisations to help their workforce become mobile.”

This is the latest in O2’s flexible working plan, following such initiatives as ‘Tomorrow’s Workplace’, which saw O2 consolidate its operations into a single campus in Slough.

The firm said that by enabling the workforce to be more mobile, it had achieved a 53 per cent reduction in its won carbon footprint and despite having the same number of people, the HQ is now operating with 550 fewer desks.

Earlier this year launched Joined Up People, as part of its Joined Up Business vision. The service is aimed at preparing businesses to maximise the use of ICT, providing them with the flexible infrastructure needed to support applications, content and services that their employees need to complete their job in any place.