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Opinion

No, the BBC shouldn’t force employees to uproot their lives

The future of work is all about flexibility — so why are some companies still fixating on location as opposed to talent?

Yessi Bello-Perez

Leader

Unleash Your Workforce The future of work is all about flexibility — so why are some companies fixating on location as opposed to talent?

  • The BBC, the UK’s public service broadcaster, is moving many of its jobs outside of London — leaving many employees to consider taking redundancy.
  • The future of work needs to be flexible and it must take into account employee feedback.
  • Talent should come first.

Some of the world’s biggest corporations are embracing remote work, and giving their employees the flexibility to decide where and how they work.

Meanwhile, the BBC — the UK’s public service broadcaster — has announced a series of moves that will see entire teams moved outside of London “to make the corporation more reflective of the UK as a whole.”

The BBC said its plans represented a “top-to-bottom change and its biggest transformation in decades,” as entire departments and news divisions will be moved to Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Salford, and Glasgow.

These plans spell good news for some of the UK’s regions but many employees on the affected London-based teams told the Guardian they expected the majority of colleagues to opt for redundancy rather than uprooting their lives and families.

As part of the plans, the BBC is expected to create an additional 600 roles outside of London over the coming seven years. At the same time, it’s trying to decrease the size of its 23,000-strong overall workforce.

Erm, what about the future of work?

These types of moves, often spurred by the need to cut down costs or address new business needs, aren’t new.

However, I can’t help but wonder that these decisions, communicated to but not consulted with employees, go against the opportunity afforded by the new working world.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced HR tech teams and leaders to change their approach, to listen to employees, and adapt processes to meet the needs and desires of an increasingly demanding — and empowered — workforce.

While I acknowledge that being able to work from anywhere isn’t possible in all professions, what happens to those who are now having to choose between uprooting their entire lives and potentially losing their jobs?

Technology is already playing a pivotal role in the workplace. It’s enabled companies, of all shapes and sizes, to allow workers to work from home practically over night.

Employers and employees have shown great resilience over the past 12 months — my worry is that it’ll be forgotten if and when we return a semblance of ‘normal.’

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