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Asda introduces permanent hybrid working model

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Asda will introduce a permanent hybrid working model for staff at its head offices once coronavirus restrictions are eased this month.

The supermarket chain has confirmed that around 4,000 employees at Asda House in Leeds and George House in Leicester will be able to choose the location from which they wish to work.

Bosses said there is no set number of days staff will be expected in the office but they should talk to their managers to ‘strike the right balance between home and office working, whilst ensuring this is led by the needs of the business’.

It comes as new Health Secretary Sajid Javid said July 19 would be the ‘end of the line’ for England’s lockdown as he demanded ‘a return of the economic and social life that makes this country so great’. 

Asda will introduce a permanent hybrid working model for around 4,000 employees at Asda House in Leeds and George House in Leicester. (Stock image)

Asda has said it has ‘learned a great deal about working patterns during the last 16 months’ and its new approach ‘will help us attract and retain the best talent’.      

Jacki Simpson, Asda vice president of people operations, said: ‘We have learned a great deal about working patterns during the last 16 months and have seen colleagues work productively across different locations.

‘Having consulted extensively with them about future ways of working, we know they welcome the increased flexibility of remote working.

‘However, they also acknowledge there is some work that is simply better done from the office, so, as we move forward, a hybrid working model is the right approach for our people and the business.

‘We believe this approach will help us attract and retain the best talent and will continue to position Asda as an employer of choice.’

In May, a BBC survey revealed nearly 50 of Britain’s biggest firms plan on adopting a ‘hybrid’ model of working, allowing staff to work from home two or three days a week once Covid restrictions are relaxed.

Earlier this year Google and KPMG revealed their post-pandemic plans to let staff work from home.

Accounting firm KPMG told its 16,000 UK staff that they will work in the office for up to four days in a fortnight starting from June under a new hybrid working model.

KPMG spokeswoman Zoe Sheppard said in an emailed statement: ‘As part of the firm’s new hybrid way of working, from June onwards, the expectation will be that KPMG’s people spend up to four days in the office spread over a fortnight, with the rest spent at home or at client sites.’ 

And U.S. tech giant Google revealed plans to allow 20 per cent of its 140,000 employees to permanently work from home starting from September 1.

The company had originally planned to have all of its employees return to work at its offices at least three times a week.

A spokesperson for Google said that starting in September, the company will also transition to a ‘hybrid model’ with a majority of employees required in the office for at least three days per week. 

Accounting firm KPMG told its 16,000 UK staff  that they will work in the office for up to four days in a fortnight under a new hybrid working model. Pictured: KPMG's London headquarters

Accounting firm KPMG told its 16,000 UK staff  that they will work in the office for up to four days in a fortnight under a new hybrid working model. Pictured: KPMG’s London headquarters

Google revealed plans to allow 20 per cent of its 140,000 employees to permanently work from home starting from September 1. Pictured: Google's London headquarters

Google revealed plans to allow 20 per cent of its 140,000 employees to permanently work from home starting from September 1. Pictured: Google’s London headquarters

Advertising company WPP said staff will only be in the office for one of two days per week. Pictured: WPP's London HQ pictured

Advertising company WPP said staff will only be in the office for one of two days per week. Pictured: WPP’s London HQ pictured

Elsewhere, advertising company WPP and business advisors PriceWaterhouseCooper also revealed that their post-lockdown working models would involve a mix of in-office and at home shifts.

WPP staff will only be in the office for one or two days per week while PriceWaterhouseCooper will allow its staff to work from home a couple of days a week and start at any time they like.

KPMG unveils a TWO-day week in the office post-pandemic 

Accounting firm KPMG told its 16,000 UK staff on Wednesday that they will work in the office for up to four days in a fortnight starting next month under a hybrid working model drawn up following the recent decline in British Covid cases. 

KPMG spokeswoman Zoe Sheppard said in an emailed statement: ‘As part of the firm’s new hybrid way of working, from June onwards, the expectation will be that KPMG’s people spend up to four days in the office spread over a fortnight, with the rest spent at home or at client sites.’

KPMG UK head Bill Michael resigned in February after reports that he told staff to ‘stop moaning’ about the impact of Covid-19 on their lives. He was replaced by Jon Holt. 

Sheppard said the hybrid plan was drawn up incorporating feedback from staff.

Advertising company WPP’s chief executive Mark Read said: ‘We’re never going to go back to working the way we used to work.’   

Insurance firm Aviva also said 95 per cent of its 16,000-strong work force want to be flexible about where they work.

And recruiter Adecco said four-fifths of its 34,000 employees are working from home.   

Not all firms have favoured working from home, however, and multinational investment bank Goldman Sachs told staff to be ready to return to the office in June. 

In February, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, 59, slammed working from home as an ‘aberration’ and insisted the firm would ‘correct’ the remote working situation .

Mr Solomon, who is based out of the company’s New York headquarters, suggested the measure does not suit his investment bank, despite suggestions from other firms that they may seek to retain a form of remote working even after restrictions lift.

‘I do think for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us,’ he told the annual Credit Suisse virtual financial services forum.

He added that he was a ‘big believer in personal connectivity’ and foresaw that Goldman’s pre-pandemic operating style would return.

‘I am very focused on the fact that I don’t want another class of young people arriving at Goldman Sachs in the summer remotely,’ he told the conference.

‘I don’t think as we get out of the pandemic the overall operating mode of the way a business like ours operates will be vastly different.’

JP Morgan said earlier this year it was targeting U.S. workers’ return to office on a rotational basis from July. 

And James Bardrick, the UK boss of Citigroup said the ‘vast majority’ of his workers – 6,000 in London and 3,000 in Belfast – will be called in three days a week if restrictions are eased on July 19. 

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, 59, claimed in a virtual financial services forum this year that the firm will end remote work 'as soon as possible'

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, 59, claimed in a virtual financial services forum this year that the firm will end remote work ‘as soon as possible’

The UK boss of Citigroup has said 'business works best from being together' as the American banking giant plans to get staff back in the office. Pictured: The group's London offices

The UK boss of Citigroup has said ‘business works best from being together’ as the American banking giant plans to get staff back in the office. Pictured: The group’s London offices

James Bardrick (left, with Sajid Javid and George Osborne in 2018) said the 'vast majority' of its workers - 6,000 in London and 3,000 in Belfast - will be called in three days a week if restrictions are eased on July 19

James Bardrick (left, with Sajid Javid and George Osborne in 2018) said the ‘vast majority’ of its workers – 6,000 in London and 3,000 in Belfast – will be called in three days a week if restrictions are eased on July 19

He said the move is so employees are together again ‘to get the best out of yourself and for the team’. 

He told the Today programme: ‘We strongly believe that our business works best from being together.

‘We think that we are better together. We think we succeed for our clients and for our organisation together.

‘So what we are saying is that, yes, use greater flexibility, but to do your job well, to develop as an employee, to get the best out of yourself and for the team, we need to be together.’

The businessman also said Citigroup would not follow fellow banking giant JP Morgan in registering staff members’ vaccination status.

But he said anyone heading into one of their buildings would have to ‘demonstrate that they have got a negative test result’.

Last month, Professor Cary Cooper, a psychologist from Alliance Manchester Business School, warned if men choose to take up the offer to return to the office while women use the hybrid model this could ‘adversely affect their career’.

He told The Guardian: ‘Employers now see that employees don’t have to show face time.

‘The big question we don’t have the answer to is, during this 15-month period, have enough men said to themselves life isn’t just about work. Did they begin to reprioritise and understand how important the family is?’ 

He added: ‘Women will be working substantially from home and the men will go in more days a week than the women, and that will adversely affect their career.’

This month, proposals revealed that millions of office staff will be given a ‘default’ right to work from home under post-pandemic plans.

The proposals would change the law to make it impossible for employers to insist on staff attending the workplace unless they can show it is essential.

The Government will consult on the plan – part of a drive to promote flexible working – over the summer, ahead of possible legislation later this year.

The move is likely to spark a backlash amid fears it could damage productivity, harm businesses that rely on workers going into the office and prevent a return to normality in town and city centres. 

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