Tui, the UK’s largest travel company, has told its workers they will only need to be in the office for one day a month in the latest sign of the fundamental shift in working practices caused by the pandemic.
The company said on Wednesday that it would offer “total flexibility” to staff as it shifts to a permanent, flexible working approach. “Work is something we do, not somewhere we go,” Tui said.
Next week, the UK government will drop rules asking for workers to stay at home where possible, and replace them with a recommendation for a gradual return to the workplace.
But many companies found during the pandemic that homeworking or a hybrid arrangement between the home and the office suits both staff and operations better, leading to permanent change in working practices for millions in the UK.
KPMG is offering a “four-day fortnight” hybrid working plan for its staff. Lloyds Banking Group is devising a strategy around home, hub or hybrid working as the new “categories of work style” that can be picked by its employees.
Nationwide has closed three offices in Swindon under plans to allow its staff to choose where they work between home, offices or local branches.
Accenture surveyed more than 1,400 UK financial services employees across banking, capital markets and insurance and found that two-thirds would prefer to work in the office just two days a week or less. Less than one in 10 would favour a return to five days a week in the office.
Tui employs more than 10,000 people, although the new flexible approach will not apply to some employees such as pilots, cabin crew, engineering and maintenance, or workers in retail stores. The company is considering similar plans across its European operations.
The move will also mean that the company will review its property portfolio, although Tui said that in the short term there were no plans for changes given the need for space for collaboration and meetings.
The Germany-based group has struggled during the Covid-19 crisis, incurring heavy losses after most tourist markets have in effect shut for much of the past 18 months.
The majority of Tui’s office-based employees in the UK have worked from home since the start of the pandemic in March last year.
Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK, said that the “pandemic has allowed us as an organisation to take a step back and make necessary changes to the way we work, communicate and collaborate”.