The increasing trend in the UK towards working from home, and more flexible working models that would have been unthinkable just two years ago, has again been emphasised with the announcement that supermarket giant Asda will allow thousands of staff to choose where they work when lockdown measures end.
Head office staff, who number about 4,000 people, are to be given several options: continue working from home; go back to the office as before; or choose to work from one of the company’s stores or depots.
Asda is calling the process “work where it works” and says staff will not be required to be at a specific location for a set number of days per week.
On-site attendance required for certain activities
But they may be expected to attend meetings, team-building activities and other required face-to-face activities such as training sessions. These will take place at either the company’s Leeds or Leicester offices.
Around 140,000 store and depot staff are not affected by the change to a hybrid working model and will continue working on site, as before.
“We believe this approach will help us attract and retain the best talent and will continue to position Asda as an employer of choice,” said a spokesperson, Jacki Simpson.
She added that staff had requested more flexibility once lockdown regulations are officially ended in the UK.
Decision mirrors results of April employer survey
“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,” Simpson said.
A survey of 2,000 companies in the UK, published in April by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, found that most of those questioned are planning to allow employees greater flexibility on where and when they do their jobs.
About 71% of employers said having staff at home either boosted productivity or made little difference.
“The pandemic has shown that ways of working that previously seemed impossible are actually possible,” a CIPD spokesperson said at the time.