ATLANTA—It was the biggest flexible working initiative ever—and the results are in. London-based wireless carrier O2 on Feb. 8 asked its entire workforce to work from virtual offices. That sent 12,000 employees off to work remotely for a day and essentially shut down its 200,000 square foot office building.

The results: O2 employees saved 2,000 hours of commuting time. Here is the break down of how telecommuting from a virtual office saved time, boosted productivity and promoted work-life balance among the participants:

  • 52% of saved commuting time was spent working

  • 14% was spent on family time

  • 16% on extra sleeping

  • 12% on relaxation

  • 6% on commuting elsewhere

  • 88% of people that took part in the flexible working pilot thought that they were at least as productive as normal

  • 36% claimed to have been more productive


“Line managers are used to managing people they can see. Managing them remotely is a completely different thing,” says Ben Dowd, business director for O2. “Our Pilot on Feb. 8 didn’t solve all of those problems, but it is a good start. We can do a lot more to support line managers in charge of remote teams, but we know it’s not going to happen overnight. We're educating people about the whole future of work here and there's still work to be done, but we’re pleased to say this is a fantastic start.”

These results are in line with what we’ve been saying about virtual office space for years: it saves time, boosts productivity and promotes work-life balance. By working from a virtual office, it’s likely that these employees reduced stress levels—at least for a day—saved gas, got more sleep, and hugged their kids a few more times.

Stay tuned for the sustainability tale from O2’s flexible working pilot in tomorrow’s blog.