BT has opened a new regional hub in Birmingham – the first of several to be opened as part of the company’s office consolidation and decentralisation programme.
As part of the changes, BT will vacate its London St Paul headquarters in favour of a new head office and base its operations at around 30 sites across the UK.
It is hoped the restructure will save £1.3 billion, allow the more streamlined company to react more rapidly to market trends, and means it can get closer to customers. It will also support Openreach’s full fibre rollout and EE’s investments in 5G.
‘Three Snowhill’ will serve as the telco’s base for the Midlands, eventually accommodating 3,500 staff from across the BT Group and creating 1,000 new jobs. There are currently 225 vacancies in areas such as digital, data, analytics, sales, and HR.
Future hubs will be established across the UK, including in Bristol and Manchester.
“This is our first major regional hub site to open outside London and is a marker of how BT is transforming to meet the needs of our colleagues and our customers,” said BT CEO Philip Jansen.
“It’s also a statement that we’re serious about the ‘levelling up’ agenda. While our head office remains in London, we are committed to creating more opportunities and basing key operations in other areas of the UK too. A number of our senior leaders are now based here in Birmingham, as well as colleagues from across the business in a wide variety of roles, including exciting new technology research and digital product development functions.
Although BT says it will adopt a hybrid working policy to accommodate home and office-based workers, it firmly believes in the future of the office. The Birmingham office is described as a “state of the art” facility with smart building technology, flexible workspaces, collaboration areas, and event spaces.
The firm is also staging a phased return to the office post-pandemic and says the building will comply with all Covid-19 regulations.
“We still see our shared workplaces as central to BT’s future,” added Elaine Bergin, BT director for colleague experience, who herself will be based at Three Snowhill. “They will be places where colleagues come together to connect, collaborate, learn and develop, build friendships and share their experiences.
“We recognise that colleagues need the opportunity to work flexibly, and we can enable that through hybrid working. However, particularly for younger individuals and those joining BT for the first time, the opportunity to learn those soft skills and form positive relationships by working together in the office is invaluable.”
BT’s restructure has not been without controversy, however. The programme will also involve the loss of 13,000 jobs, mainly in back office and middle management roles, with new positions created in engineering and customer service.
Earlier this year it warded off the threat of industrial action from members of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) with an agreement promising to ensure any member of staff will be treated fairly and that the number of compulsory redundancies will be as low as possible.