O2 launches huge flexible working initiative

O2 has announced the launch of what it says is the biggest flexible working initiative of its kind by getting staff at its HQ in Slough to operate remotely today. 

O2 has announced the launch of what it says is the biggest flexible working initiative of its kind by getting staff at its HQ in Slough to operate remotely today. 

The pilot, which involves a quarter of its 12,000-strong workforce, aims to push the boundaries of what is possible through flexible working and will underpin O2’s contingency plans to manage expected travel disruption and delays during the summer’s Olympics games. O2 will share learnings from the pilot with other organisations.

It believe the initiative sends a clear signal to O2’s employees, business customers and other UK organisations on the advantages of working flexibly. These range from improved staff engagement and boosted productivity to better work/life balance for employees.

It is hoped that the pilot will also showcase the wider economic business case for flexible working in helping to drive efficiency, productivity and innovation. O2 says it has previously saved over £3 million in overheads through such measures. 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. These learnings will be applied in line with the company’s ambitious three year sustainability plan, in which O2 pledges to help over 125,000 business employees work flexibly, and collectively save over 500,000 miles of travel and over 160,000 thousand tonnes of carbon emissions.

O2 Business Director Ben Dowd said: “We believe a cultural step-change is underway affecting staff and businesses, as work increasingly becomes something we do, rather than a place that we go. 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. ”

For the last two months, a team of 20 people has undertaken more than 50 hours of meticulous planning to deliver the business’ first ever fully flexible working day, ensuring that 3,000 employees have access to the necessary technology tools, services and support to enable them to work completely remotely, for the entire day.

By enabling the workforce to be more mobile, O2 achieved a 53 per cent reduction in its carbon footprint and despite having the same number of people HQ is now operating with 550 fewer desks. It says that while flexible working is increasingly popular with employers businesses’ policies and practices are typically narrow in their focus and hinder the sharing of best practice by preventing staff from working flexibly across teams.

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