Aviva has announced the closure of offices across the UK alongside plans to allow staff to work from home, beyond Covid restrictions.
The investment company, which employs 16,000 people in the UK, said the plans would not lead to job cuts and offices would still be available for staff on a rotation basis. It said it expected most staff to spend one day a week in an office on average.
Employees were being consulted on the proposals, it said.
In a statement, Aviva said: “The way we use our office space is changing significantly.”
At a time when many commentators have claimed that the future of work is zooming in from home, it’s very interesting to see Aviva moving jobs into the center of Norwich” – Paul Swinney, Centre for Cities
“We are combining office space in some locations and reducing the space in others. Our intention is to invest in our sites to provide a more vibrant, inspiring, and flexible workspace for our people.”
The firm has offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Eastleigh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leatherhead, Leeds, London, Manchester, Norwich, Perth, Sheffield, Worthing, and York. It has emphasized that it would not be leaving any of these towns.
The company aims to reduce its two offices in York, to have just the one in the city center.
In Norwich, two offices at the Broadland Business Park – the Horizon Business Centre and Willow House – will close with staff being relocated to the firm’s city center site on Surrey Street by 31 March.
Aviva said the decision to focus on the city center would help support local businesses on the high street.
This could prove a trend that other businesses could follow as will less office space required, central locations could provide more attractive to workers.
Director of policy and research at the Centre for Cities thinktank, Paul Swinney, told Personnel Today that this was partly because of the need for collaboration in business.
He said: “At a time when many commentators have claimed that the future of work is zooming in from home, it’s very interesting to see Aviva moving jobs into the center of Norwich.
“Jobs have concentrated in our most successful city centers in recent years because of the benefits those city centers offer – the ability to share ideas and information with colleagues, clients, collaborators, and even competitors. This is likely to become even more important in the coming years, so while Covid has ground many of our city centers to a halt, an effective vaccine should get the cogs turning again.”
Meanwhile, Aviva has announced it is giving all 16,000 UK employees an extra day off this year, to help with their wellbeing – part of its “winter wellbeing” events to support colleagues as lockdown continues.
Danny Harmer, Aviva chief people officer, said: “Our people have worked incredibly hard to support our customers throughout what has been a difficult time for everyone.
“Rest is an important part of wellbeing and it’s vital that organizations create space for people to recharge their batteries wherever possible.”
In December Aviva employees were each given a £100 voucher as a gesture of thanks for their work during the pandemic.