British Airways is weighing up the sell-off of its Waterside headquarters, with the airline expecting many of its office staff to remain working from home after the pandemic.
The vast complex was built for about £200m in the 1990s but airline bosses said the 2,000 employees at the site had “adapted well” to working away from the Heathrow-based HQ.
An internal email to staff said that BA would explore “a hybrid way of working”, blending remote and office-based work, when the crisis was over. Government Covid-19 advice currently tells people to work at home where possible.
Stuart Kennedy, BA’s director of people, said there was unlikely to be a single model, with different teams doing different work, and it was clear that some people “miss the team spirit and energy that comes from being together”.
He said it was “not clear if such a large office will play a part in our future”. He added that BA was working with a specialist property company to gauge if its sale would be beneficial.
The HQ, once a landmark to BA’s global status, has already been stripped of much of its art collection, sold to raise funds as the airline sought to address huge losses – which totalled £6.4bn across its owning group, IAG, last year. With most flights grounded for long periods since last March, BA laid off about a quarter of the 42,000 people it employed pre-Covid, mainly crew and pilots.
Any sale of Waterside will also be complicated by the fact that Heathrow’s third runway plans – back in the frame after a supreme court ruling that it could be built – would mean bulldozing the BA offices.
BA said: “The global pandemic has shown us that many of our colleagues enjoy working remotely and want to continue, and this has accelerated our approach to offering more agile and flexible ways of working. Our aim is to find a hybrid working model that suits our business, blending the best of office and remote working for our people.”
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