Tapping into the growing trend for hybrid working, hotel giant Accor has launched a package to help professionals balance homelife in rural and coastal areas with stints in the city. Jenny Southan reports
The shift to remote working has allowed many people to move out of cities to live in healthier, more affordable locations that are less stressful and more conducive to raising children or pursuing hobbies.
Although moving to the coast or country has its benefits, now that many companies are demanding employees go into a city centre office some of the time, that can come with a long commute.
In a bid to win custom from this growing contingent of domestic business travellers, Accor has created a “Commute and Stay” offer that gives workers a central base in a city hotel (with up to 15 per cent off and a flexible cancellation rate), enabling two days in the office and a venue for evening entertainment with clients, colleagues and friends before travelling back home.
Members of Accor’s loyalty programme, ALL: Accor Live Limitless (free to join), can get a further 10 per cent discount on stays making the overall deal good value.
“The last year has shown employees and employers what can be achieved at home,” said Karelle Lamouche, chief commercial officer for Accor Northern Europe.
“Across the UK and around the world the idea of WFH [working from home] has taken hold. However even at the peak of the pandemic in 2020 our research showed us that WFH was not entirely what workers expected and people missed the social interaction offered by work. The work community and the social life that follows a working day can’t be replaced at home.
“Work From Anywhere (WFA) grew as a concept in the second half of 2020 with the rise of workations, Hotel Office and co-working. But all eyes have been on this summer as businesses around the country decide the future of work.
“Now it’s here, it is clear a hybrid model of office work and WFA is here to stay. The ‘Commute and Stay’ offer enables workers to capitalise on this hybrid future of work and live anywhere just as they work from anywhere.”
Exodus from the city
Although “work from office” policies are still being formulated, hybrid working is certainly here for the long-term.
The stamp duty holiday extension and the reintroduction of 95 per cent mortgages, combined with the opportunity for flexi-working that WFH has created, is pushing more people to take the plunge and leave the city.
Many Brits have taken the opportunity to sell their city home and commuter town properties and relocate to coast or country in search for more spacious properties and a greater work-life balance.
Estate agents and online property platforms have confirmed an appetite by many buyers to buy bigger properties outside urban areas in anticipation they can work from home after the pandemic.
DFLs (Down From London) relocators to the Kent coastal towns of Margate and Ramsgate continue to rise and property prices in Thanet increase, for example.
Lamouche says: “The reality of WFH during the pandemic is very different from WFH ‘normally’. Moving forward we see the solution being a hybrid model with employers rethinking commercial real estate and office spaces to enable employees to work from home and employees rethinking home life and residential real-estate in order to find a happy and healthy balance or office work and Work from Anywhere (WFA). Enjoy the best of both worlds, Commute and Stay.”
CASE STUDY: Amy and Ben Cracknell, Devon
“Ben and I lived in St Neots (Cambridgeshire) and commuted into London on a regular basis. Ben is a lighting designer for theatre so whilst he stayed in London when designing and opening a show, he regularly commuted in for meetings and rehearsals. I spent between three and four hours a day commuting into London for the past ten years.
“Lockdown was devastating for both theatre and hospitality but it was also the time when we realised that we could be productive working from home and decided we wanted a better quality of life and our dream has always been to live by the sea.
“We both still needed to be able to be in London as its’ important to connect in person with colleagues and suppliers so we moved to Newton Abbot in Devon which is 15 minutes from some amazing beaches and 20 minutes from Dartmoor.
“London is only 2.5 hours by train and we regularly stay in Novotel Paddington as the location is perfect for dropping our bags and then going into Hammersmith or Central London. Ben’s industry has seen the most significant change with embracing technology to enable remote attendance at meetings and rehearsals so this is what allows him to have the best of both worlds.”
Companies implementing long-term hybrid working
- HSBC – HSBC lets 1,200 staff work from home permanently
- Deutsche Bank – Deutsche Bank staff in the City set for three-day work from home week
- Facebook – Facebook remote working plan extended to all staff for long term
- EY – EY confirms move to hybrid working model
- PwC – PwC announces new flexible work deal for employees