BT instructs staff to work from the office 3 days a week, or • The Register

Exclusive BT is ordering thousands of staff to return to the office three days a week at one of 30 hubs across the UK and Northern Ireland or risk disciplinary action.

In a document sent to affected workers, some of whom are unhappy with the change of direction, BT Group CEO Philip Jansen talks about the new “smart working approach: 3 together, 2 wherever”.

“We believe in being together,” says the boss in the letter that is being distributed to many employees today. “This means that most of our office colleagues get together at work or with clients at least three days a week.

“The focus is on our very good reason for being: we connect forever. It’s in our bones and that’s what we do every day. When we’re working remotely, we’ve lost that deep connection that we only get from being together — with each other or with our clients — more often.”

BT “also believes in flexibility,” adds the boss, and on those days staff can choose to work from home or in a coffee shop, “or back to work if they want to!”

Jansen added: “As we all emerge from the last two years and the behaviors we have developed during that time, we believe we need a change, a refresher and a bigger chance to connect. We believe being able to work from home for more than two days is not right for the way we work or who we are, except in isolated cases where our work from home policy applies.”

The exact days on which employees work from home must be determined in discussions with line managers. There are some concerns more will be working from home on Fridays.

Outliers who do not want to conform to the new corporate strategy are reminded of the standards of conduct and “that doing so could result in disciplinary action,” Jansen says in the letter.

BT insiders, with whom we spoke on condition of anonymity, tell us the policy covers anyone in an office role, which they conservatively put at 15,000 or as many as 25,000 people. Excluded are field technicians, operations services and the like.

Since the pandemic, these BT staff have been working from home or assigned to a local office. This will be discontinued. We have been told that BT’s plan is to operate 30 hub locations to which staff will be assigned. These should be located in the inner cities. A source told us:

BT is also urging employees to exercise tighter control over business spending in anticipation of a tougher business environment, like all other companies, including Microsoft and Google.

Some employees will not be happy with the imposition of regulations that require more regular office work. An insider said:

Attitudes towards remote working are significantly different among companies in the tech world. Workday has always strived to bring its employees back to the officeothers have a mixed policy and some like Red Hat last weeksay they’re happy when employees stay away from the office forever.

We have asked BT to comment on this even as the 3 together, 2 wherever policy is implemented. ® BT instructs staff to work from the office 3 days a week, or • The Register

Laura Coffey

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