BT boss warns 16-min walk from current HQ to new London base 'just the tip of the iceberg'

It's also the 'largest workplace transformation programmes the UK has ever seen'

Sixteen minutes: the amount of time it takes for the world to generate 60.8 million Google searches or a BT worker shimmying along to a new shiny HQ in central London.

The new base for the former state monopoly was confirmed today as an 18-floor development being built at 1 Braham Street, Aldgate – a short distance from the St Paul's location that was last week sold to a fund managed by Orion Capital Managers for £209.6m.

BT is restructuring to save £1.5bn in overheads as part of a three to five-year programme. This includes laying off 13,000 employees and offloading 90 per cent of its real estate.

New broom Philip Jansen, who replaced former CEO Gavin Patterson earlier this year, described the "relocation" of the HQ as "a symbolic move but really it's just the tip of the iceberg".

Interesting choice of words as big, bulky things and icebergs don't tend to mix well.

"We are currently embarking on one of the largest workplace transformation programmes the UK has ever seen. The Better Workplace Programme is going to take a lot of hard work but it will have a huge and positive impact on BT's working culture, our productivity and, ultimately, our ability to serve our customers."

The HQ will, according to Jansen, be a "new fit-for-purpose building, developed and owned by Aldgate Development, and will be adaptable to suit the business' changing needs".

Presumably this will include hot desks for the Global Services and Enterprise divisions, where a good proportion of the 13,000 job reductions will come from.

"Between now and moving into the new building we'll be working with architects, designers and – most importantly – our colleagues, to make sure it's the home the business wants and needs."

The planned HQ migration won't happen until the end of 2021, and last week's sales of the St Paul's building includes a clause for an initial 30-month leaseback.

BT is also taking staff through the People Framework, a change programme that involves the shake-up of the pay and grading structure, though union Prospect recently advised members that work at the company to accept revisions made.

In the year ended 31 March 2019, BT reported revenue of £23.459bn, down 1 per cent year-on-year, with every division except consumer dropping on the comparative results filed in 2018. ®

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