BT has asked hundreds of home-working staff to return to the office so the telecoms giant can retrain them in new skills to improve their division’s performance.
About 200 home-working staff in the global services division will go back to the office to pick up new skills and receive central training that will help their division bounce back from huge operating losses.
This month BT reported a pre-tax loss of £134m for the year to March 31 – compared with a pre-tax profit in the previous year of £1.9bn – largely because of losses at its global services division, which provides IT and telecoms services to other companies.
The Communications and Workers Union (CWU) says it will support the plans so long as trials take place on a temporary basis and home-workers are able to return to flexible working when possible.
A spokeswoman told Personnel Today: “We believe these changes should not have to be permanent, but for BT to retrain its staff and get its workers as multi-skilled as possible they need to be in the central office. CWU has struck a six-month review period for BT, we’ve also struck an agreement which considers those people who have caring responsibilities or health issues.”
She added it was possible that asking home-based staff to work in the office for a temporary period of time could become more popular, as firms looked to retrain their staff.
A BT spokesman said that the staff involved were at the “front line of customer services” and would be better able to help the group’s multinational clients if they were at terminals in the office.
He said: “This is in no way reflective of any change in our HR policies”, adding that BT had more than 10,000 home-based staff, and 64,000 employees equipped to work flexibly.
“These efforts to offer the best customer service to global services clients in no way represent a change in our policies or approach,” he added.
The changes will not take place for at least another three months as it involves a contractual change. Workers are currently consulting on the plans.
Earlier this month BT announced that 10% of its global workforce, a total of 15,000 workers, would be made redundant.