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The Hybrid Model: Unilever Announce Full-Time Work in the Office to be Scrapped

18th January 2021

British multinational consumer goods company, Unilever, has announced that its employees will no longer be working in an office environment on a permanent basis.

CEO, Alan Jope, has made it clear that workers would not be required to work the conventional five-day week in the office going forwards, as Unilever’s office workforce have adapted so well to working remotely from home.

On the other hand, Unilever’s factory workers would continue as normal.  

Jope, declaring the measures during a session at the REUTERS NEXT Virtual Summit last week, believes that a hybrid model of work will be adapted by more companies in the near future in order to minimise contact. For example, this would mean two days working in the office and three days working from the comfort of home.

This also comes during a period Unilever is currently trialling a four-day working week in their New Zealand office, a project announced in December 2020. The experiment, initiated by COVID implications, is set to last a year in attempt to see if staff productivity can be increased by offering them more time off whilst still receiving the same salary.

It’s clear that Unilever, and other companies around the world, have found adapting to the home office was an easy process to get to grips with and productivity initially remained the same.

A recent survey conducted by Hubble HQ suggests that around 86% of employees were forced into working remotely due to COVID restrictions and only 7% of these found the experience to be negative. However, 70% of respondents believed they still needed an office space, with social collaboration being the main reason. Ultimately, the office will still be required to ensure optimal work efficiency.

Bearing this, and Unilever’s announcement, in mind, it will be interesting to see the new trends and occupier strategies emerging in 2021 and beyond.

The new ‘hybrid’ system of office work, which has the scope to become increasingly common, may force businesses and landlords alike to re-evaluate the conventional commercial tenancy. It will be also be fascinating to see if such a system remains in place after the completion of the COVID vaccine roll-out and a safe return to the workplace is viable. 

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