Vivienne Westwood says remote jobs are in style

The fashion house has told staff to work from home in order to meet Net Zero targets.

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Helena Young
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One of the UK’s biggest fashion houses has officially endorsed flexible working. Vivienne Westwood, which is estimated to employ around 250 workers, has adopted a hybrid work model with most employees working from home three days a week

The decision, communicated to staff at its Battersea headquarters, was first reported by The Times and is apparently part of a drive to become more sustainable.

The shift aligns with Startups’ findings that two thirds of businesses intend to implement flexible work this year, and is also likely to be motivated by talent attraction.

WFH better for the environment

Work from home (WFH) models are one of the simplest ways to slash transport emissions. Millions of cars off the road as people skip their commutes translates to a major reduction in greenhouse gases, air pollution, and noise.

The perks will resonate with the fashion industry. Criticism of the sector’s substantial carbon footprint has been considerable, triggering a rise in the number of eco-conscious challengers. Startups named three sustainable and upcycling clothing brands in the 2024 Startups 100.

With green set to be a key colour for the fashion industry this year, it’s only fitting that Vivenne Westwood (the firm known for its outlandish designs) be the one to set the bar.

The company’s influential founder Dame Vivienne Westwood, who died in 2022, was an outspoken climate change activist. Alongside WFH plans, the business said it will urge customers to buy less “to raise awareness of the environmental impact of overconsumption”.

Remote work green and lean policy

Going sustainable can come with a lot of added expenses for businesses. Eco-friendly materials carry a premium price tag due to smaller production volumes. Meanwhile, renewable energy sources often require an initial investment that can be daunting.

Vivienne Westwood’s decision to cut down on office usage is a savvy way to encourage a green transition, while still enjoying significant cost savings on high rent or lease expenses.

According to a recent Startups survey of 546 small firms, those based fully in-office were twice as likely to have laid off staff in 2023, compared to remote and hybrid organisations.

Employees happier at home

Research also suggests that hybrid work models can positively impact employee satisfaction and engagement, both of which are key concerns for today’s businesses.

Young people are one of the toughest nuts to crack. The fashion industry has a big audience in Generation Z, and the majority want sustainability to be a key priority for businesses.

The group is also increasingly regretful of careers that don’t allow them to work from home, making flexible working their most sought-after employee benefit when job seeking.

This could be why the same Startups survey found that 66% of respondents plan to adopt a flexible working model in 2024, as a way to supercharge hiring plans this year.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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