BT demands staff return to the office

Telecoms giant says new approach is “fundamental to the success of the business”

BT is demanding staff return to the office three days a week as it is “fundamental to the success of the business”, in the latest sign of a boardroom backlash against working from home

Chief executive Philip Jansen has told thousands of staff that it would be shifting to a new "smart working" approach of "three together, two wherever".

Those who do not want to accept the new terms could face disciplinary action, according to The Register, a technology news website, which first reported the change.

The decision is the latest example of the growing concern among big corporations about the impact full-time flexible working can have on productivity.

In an email, Mr Jansen said: "We believe in being together. That means most of our office-based colleagues coming together for at least three days a week in the workplace, or with customers.

"Working remotely, we’ve lost that deep connection we only get from being together – with each other or with our customers – more often: the spontaneous conversations, the creative work, and the building of deep human relationships that inspire amazing things for our customers.

"I know this won’t suit everybody’s individual preference, but the whole of the executive team believes it is fundamental to the success of our business."

The move comes as tussle over how best to work in the post-pandemic era creates tensions between managers and their staff.

The New York Times is among the companies facing a backlash over its return to the office push after workers expecting pay rises were offered free branded lunch boxes.

Over 1,200 New York Times staff represented by media union the NewsGuild of New York are rebelling against the newspaper this week by refusing to go in, echoing protests around the world as employees demand the right to continue remote working.

Meanwhile, the City law firm Stephenson Harwood has told staff they will be allowed to work from home, but only if they take a 20pc pay cut.