Ocado bows to staff pressure to allow working from abroad

Ocado employees have been told they can work internationally for a month per year in a bid to provide “choice” in the post-pandemic workplace.

The £13.5 billion online grocer made the concession after requests from staff who worked at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Major companies face a difficult balancing act between tempting staff back to the office, which are typically on long expensive leases, and adapting to new ways of working.

Ocado chief people officer Claire Ainscough said calls for working overseas had often come up during the company’s “townhall” meetings.

READ MORE: ‘Issues’ with Ocado partnership, M&S admits

She told The Times that the idea was particularly popular with those with families abroad.

The monthly scheme had been brought in “because we feel we could give our employees a balance and choice”, Ainscough continued.

However, she emphasised that staff were still encouraged to return to the office so teams could collaborate properly.

Ocado chief executive Tim Steiner has spent a large part of the pandemic working from his parent’s house in the Bahamas.

It allowed him easier access to the United States, where the company is building robotic warehouses in Ohio for Kroger.

Most of Ocado’s business comes from its deals with overseas retailers rather than its own retail business, which supplies groceries for Marks and Spencer.

It announced plans to open its first warehouse in Madrid with Spanish grocer Alcampo last month.

Earlier this year, Steiner suggested Ocado could make an “aggressive” move into overseas markets as a standalone retail business.

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