2,500 O2 employees left with their own devices

Ben Dowd, Business Director for O2 in the UK, explains why our Slough HQ looked a bit different on Wednesday morning…

For one day, we turned off the lights and shut the doors on our Slough HQ, to try out a really big experiment.

For the last two months, a team of 20 people has undertaken more than 50 hours of meticulous planning to deliver O2’s first ever fully flexible working day. They’ve been ensuring that 3,000 employees have access to the necessary technology tools, services and support to enable them to work completely remotely, for the entire day. We think was is the biggest flexible working initiative of its kind.

The pilot aimed to push the boundaries of what is possible through flexible working and will underpin our contingency plans to manage expected travel disruption and delays during the summer’s Olympic games. With one third of the UK’s businesses expected to encourage their staff to work flexibly this summer, O2 will share learnings from the pilot with other organisations, to support them in their plans for managing the impact of a range of events during the summer months.

We want our day to showcase the wider economic business case for flexible working in helping to drive efficiency, productivity and innovation. Now the day is completed we are going to take a look at the numbers. We will evaluate reductions to electricity usage, CO2 emissions and travel time as employees swap their usual journey to work in favour of working from a remote location. These learnings will be applied in line with our three-year sustainability plan, in which we pledge to help over 125,000 business employees work flexibly, and collectively save over 500,000 miles of travel and over 160,000 thousand tonnes of carbon emissions.

A cultural step-change is underway affecting staff and businesses, as work increasingly becomes something we do, rather than a place that we go. Flexible working has become an increasingly important aspect of British business culture, with a growing number of organisations and employees adopting a more flexible approach to working life. As new technologies make it increasingly easy to conduct business from beyond the confines of the office, we want everyone to be ready.

Did I mention we left over 2,500 employees to their own devices for a day…?

Update: And look what happened while we were away – 3RUN came to show us what they call flexible working.

Parkour at O2HQ: Flexibly working

Parkour at O2HQ: Flexibly working

For more pictures of 3Run in action, visit our Flickr stream.