British Airways to continue work-from-home plan as workplace goes hybrid
British Airways will let staff split their working lives between the head office and home in another example of big firms offering flexible employment. The airline is also exploring the sale of its huge Waterside HQ near Heathrow Airport, where 2,000 people worked before the coronavirus lockdown.
“It’s not clear if such a large office will play a part in our future,” BA said in a message to staff. The firm is in a race to cut costs after the virus led travel to collapse.
BA, part of the IAG airline group that also owns Iberia and Aer Lingus, has shed more than 10,000 jobs and is raising billions of pounds of extra cash from shareholders to shore up its finances.
Stuart Kennedy, the airline’s director of people, said in his message to staff that one of the very few positives to come out of the pandemic was how well staff had coped with working from home.
“We’ll want to consider what the ideal office layout for the future will be. Perhaps it’s less fixed desks and more casual meeting areas, and we need to consider colleague wellbeing, too,” he said.
However, he emphasised that plans to sell Waterside were still at a very early stage. It is thought the airline has only recently hired property consultants to evaluate options. In a separate statement to the BBC, BA said: “The global pandemic has shown us that many of our colleagues enjoy working remotely and want to continue, and this has accelerated our approach to offering more agile and flexible ways of working.
“Our aim is to find a hybrid working model that suits our business, blending the best of office and remote working for our people. We’ve also re-structured our business to emerge from the crisis and are considering whether we still have the need for such a large headquarters building.”
The move to hybrid working after the pandemic is growing.
The Nationwide building society has indicated that it does not intend to force people to return to the office if they have been successfully able to work from home during the pandemic. Oil giant BP has told office-based staff they can spend two days a week working from home after lockdown restrictions ease.
And banks HSBC and Lloyds are among many other companies looking into split working arrangements. Earlier this month the boss of IWG, which provides office space across the world, told the BBC he expected hybrid working “to become the norm” for many companies.
Mark Dixon said: “It works for companies, because it’s a lot cheaper. It’s also much, much better for the environment.”