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Wed June 16 2021

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Arup frees staff to pick their own hours and location

20 May Consulting engineer Arup has told its 6,000 UK employees they can pretty much work when and where they like.

Work-life balance is important
Work-life balance is important

Arup has adopted a new hybrid work model that allows employees to choose their working days across a seven-day week as part of a big shift to flexible working.

If it suits you better to work evenings and weekends, and play golf on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, that’s now absolutely fine at Arup, so long as you put in your contracted hours.

Arup has introduced what it calls its ‘Work Unbound’ model for  employees across the UK, India, Middle East and Africa.

However, it is keeping its city centre offices all open – at least for now – as “places for collaboration, creativity and innovation”.  Staff will be allowed to work from home, or remotely, for up to three days per week, but must spent two days in an Arup office.

Arup Work Unbound is not just a response to working from home during Covid. The firm was running flexible working pilots back in 2019, including a three-month trial conducted in the Liverpool office . This found that 53 out of 65 staff members flexed their hours at some point during the pilot, varying the number of hours they worked each day up or down; 23 chose to work at the weekend at some point during the pilot.

Remote working was also embraced: roughly half worked from home at some point during the week, and half opted to stay in the office during the pilot for the full five days a week.

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Jerome Frost, chair of Arup’s UK, India, Middle East and Africa region, said: “Building significant flexibility into our colleagues’ working lives is something we’ve been experimenting with since before the pandemic.  With the opportunity to flex working hours over the course of a seven day week, we‘re empowering our members to find a working pattern that allows them to be at their personal best while delivering high quality work for clients.

“As an independent company held in trust for its members, Work Unbound empowers Arup members to make their own choices about how they can do their best work. They can adopt a working pattern that suits their lifestyles. Importantly, it also means they can adapt to suit their clients preferred ways of working, whether that be in their offices, in Arup’s collaborative city centre offices, on-site or at home.

“While this represents an evolution in how we work together, nothing can replace the human connection and relationships that make up our culture and nurture our development as built environment professionals.   Our offices and colleagues live and work as a part of their community and as we embrace Work Unbound we will continue to invest in our city centre offices across the UK, reimagining our space as creative hubs where we can engage with city leaders, collaborators, and clients as partners in the effort to recover, transform, and thrive.”

David Almond, a senior engineer in Arup’s Liverpool office, added: “The flexible working pilot gave me the opportunity to try different ways of working to suit my lifestyle. I found that having the flexibility and freedom to work whichever hours, suited the demands of a young family.  It allowed me to make the most of my downtime, and ultimately have a healthier work-life balance.

“It also opened other options for travel to work as I wasn’t constrained to certain times or modes and working from home occasionally removed the commute altogether – time which was spent productively elsewhere.”

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