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O2 Shuts Down Slough HQ In Olympic Trial

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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O2 says 3.000 of its staff will work from home, showcasing the economic and environmental benefits of flexible working

O2 held what it claims was the “biggest flexible working initiative of its kind” as 3,000 employees worked remotely on Wednesday.

The mobile operator closed its headquarters in Slough with 3,000 staff, roughly one quarter of its workforce, participating in the experiment to test the effectiveness of its plans to avoid the expected travel disruption caused by this summer’s Olympic Games.

Environmental benefits

O2 says that not only will the pilot scheme test the company’s readiness for the Olympics, but it will also prove the wider businesses case for flexible working. It says that such schemes will improve efficiency, productivity and innovation while providing benefits such as improved staff engagement and a better work/life balance for employees.

The findings of the experiment will be shared with other businesses as a third of UK companies are expected to encourage their staff to work more flexibly this summer. The results will be applied to the company’s three year sustainability plan which aims to help over 125,000 business employees work flexibly.

O2 claims to have saved £3 million in overheads by employing measures and believes that there will be reductions in energy usage, CO2 emissions and travel times.

Watch and learn

“Today’s office-wide flexible working initiative is an opportunity for us to take the next step on our flexible working journey and tangibly demonstrate the opportunity and potential available to British businesses today,” said Ben Dowd, O2 business director. “We practice what we preach, and by asking O2 employees to work together as a team to test the company’s flexible working practices for themselves, we want to show that there are no limits – no matter how big or small your business is.”

“By sharing experiences from across our business, from business divisions to operations, we hope to encourage more organisations to help their workforce become mobile,” he added.

Civil servants have also been involved in a remote working trial this week, Operation Stepchange. This four day trial will assess their ability to work from home during the predicted chaos caused by the Olympics, with commentators suggesting that it will provide a blueprint for other business to carry out similar arrangements.