The maker of store-cupboard staples from Mr Kipling cakes to Bistogravy and Ambrosia custard announced today that while its St Albans headquarters will remain open, “work is a verb, not a place” and the site will never be “somewhere colleagues have to be for the sake of showing their face”.
Desk-based employees account for around 20% of the consumer group’s workforce. The firm, which has benefited from the pandemic home-cooking boom and smashed through latest sales targets, said it hopes the model will be “transformational” and boost both staff wellbeing and productivity.
Managers are to be given bespoke training to support the transition.
Group HR director, David Wilkinson, said: “This isn’t about getting rid of the office altogether, it’s about shifting our mindset on what it means to be flexible.
“Work is a verb not a place and whether it’s for a team meeting or just personal preference, our office remains open for anyone who wants to use it. What it’s not, is somewhere colleagues have to be for the sake of showing their face.”
The changes will not apply to the group’s 4,000 factory workers.
It comes amid an ongoing debate over the future of offices after 18 months of remote working in the pandemic.
Accounting giant Deloitte has also said it will now allow staff to decide to work wherever works best for their productivity. Many others, including fellow Big Four firm PwC, will require fully-vaccinated employees to return to commuting and Pret lunches for two to three days per week. Very few employers are mandating an office return for four or five days per week.
Online grocer Ocado and meal kit firm Gousto have both told employees they can even work from anywhere in the world for up to a month a year, allowing employees to maximise the benefits of the “new normal”.
Overall, the trajectory appears to point to hybrid working – a combination of location-flexible and office-based work -being here to stay.