Sheppard Robson chiefs have sought to reassure employees they are not forcing staff to come into the office but say they have no plans to close the practice’s offices entirely
It is understood at least half of the company’s approximately 250 London-based staff are still working in its Camden headquarters, despite prime minister Boris Johnson’s recent call for firms to introduce homeworking in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
A whistleblower contacted the AJ to complain that some of the practice’s workforce had felt pressurised to travel into central London to work in the office. But the company responded by insisting that no one was ‘’obligated to work from the office if it made them uncomfortable’.
Alan Shingler, chairman of the practice’s management board, said: ‘We are not forcing people to come into the office … The vast majority of the staff understand that we have an obligation to keep the business going on behalf of the staff.’
He added that, at present, ‘we have no plans to shut our offices entirely but we will follow government guidance. What I can say is that we have been working hard over the last two weeks to ensure remote working is as efficient as it can be.’
Shingler insisted that staff were being kept up to date with developments, saying the practice issued daily updates to all staff. He said plans were in place to introduce remote working in stages and that the 380-strong practice, which also has offices in Manchester and Glasgow, was ’gearing up to have everyone able to work from home by the end of tomorrow (20 March)’.
Shingler told the AJ that home-working had so far been introduced for individuals on request, with roughly 100 employees having taken this step, and that many staff had chosen to come in to work in the office environment.
The situation at Sheppard Robson is in marked contrast to that at Foster + Partners where only a small, skeleton staff of the company’s more than 1,000 employees are currently working from its Battersea base.