Ocado Group staff have been told that for one month a year, they may work remotely from any location.

The tech firm behind the online grocer has responded to the trend which has emerged over the pandemic, with staff requests to work abroad becoming a “top question”.

Ocado’s chief people officer Claire Ainscough says she hopes the offer will be beneficial for staff with families overseas who wish to spend time with them without using their annual leave, giving employees “a balance and choice”.

Speaking to the Times newspaper, she also added that Ocado’s 17,000 staff were still being encouraged to return to the group’s headquarters in Hatfield, North London.

The scheme is not applicable to Ocado retail, the online supermarket.

The decision from Ocado echoes the words of Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who told the BBC that whilst he was looking forward to his team returning to the office, flexible working is “here to stay”.

The pandemic has permanently changed the working patterns of many businesses, including Unilever, which employs 150,000 people globally.

The chief executive Alan Jope claimed that he anticipated never returning to a five-day office week.

Not only this, but KPMG has said British staff will only be required in the office for two days per week, and Asda has decided to allow head office staff to decide for themselves where the best location is to do their job, whether that be home, the office, or a store or depot.

This all follows the decision of Bumble to give staff unlimited paid leave, and scheduling office closures twice a year.

Justin Small, CEO of Future Strategy Club, commented:

Employers need to understand that Covid has fundamentally changed the power structure between employee and employer.

The diktat that working from home is less productive has been proved completely false – in fact, Covid has proven that working from home is more productive.

Therefore, the talent is now dictating hybrid working terms to potential employers, and employers need to restructure how they think about their culture and ways of working.

However, some employers are not as willing to restructure as a result of COVID-19 and are using lifting restrictions to call for a return to pre-pandemic work styles.

Goldman Sachs told UK bankers to be ready to return to the office, with Goldman boss David Solomon previously describing working from home as “an aberration”.

Similarly, Jes Staley, chief executive of Barclays, previously described working from home as “a short-term measure that was not sustainable”.

As for the workforce, Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work report found that almost all (97.6 per cent) surveyed would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their career.





Megan McElroy is a second year English Literature student at the University of Warwick. As Editorial Intern for HRreview, her interests include employment law and public policy. In relation to her degree, her favourite areas of study include Small Press Publishing and political poetry.