Action on Hearing Loss to leave London HQ

The hearing loss charity Action on Hearing Loss will move out of its London headquarters and ask staff to work from home for the foreseeable future.

The charity started viewing new workspaces before the government-enforced lockdown, having sold its Highbury office in December and rented it back in the interim. 

But working through the coronavirus has proven to the charity that flexible working is viable, so it has decided “now is not the right time to commit to a new London workspace”. 

It is due to leave the London office in September. 

Mark Atkinson, chief executive of the charity, said: “The past few months have proved we can make it work. We don’t see the point of rushing a decision when the world is changing around us.”

He pointed out that the future of traditional offices and ways of working might look very different after the pandemic.

“This is our opportunity to be on the front foot of any changes presented by coronavirus and make innovative decisions driven by the needs of our people and our charity,” said Atkinson.

“In essence, we want to reinvest the money that would have been paid in rent, business rates, utilities and so on into delivering our purpose and rewarding our staff. Our view is that there are better ways to use that resource.”

The Highbury headquarters, which was purchased in 2015 for £6.6m and refurbished for a further £1.5m, was sold as a cost-saving measure because the charity was close to exhausting its £3m credit limit with the bank. 

The financial situation was so bad that its auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, went so far as to question the charity’s ability to carry on in its annual accounts in 2018.

The charity, which has called the decision an “exciting opportunity to work from anywhere”, recognises that for some staff members working from home is “less ideal”.

Atkinson said: “We realise this will affect staff in completely different ways. As a charity we have a long-standing commitment to flexible working, so for many it will be welcome news, bringing more flexibility to the way we work. But we realise that working from home longer term for others might be less ideal. We are committed to working with all staff and managers to make sure their workspace suits them and their roles.” 

Staff will be consulted on future plans for the London workspace. In the meantime, Action on Hearing Loss has rolled out Microsoft Teams and the social networking tool Yammer across the organisation to better connect employees.

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