close
close

The owner of Manchester United prohibits remote work for club employees

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire co-owner of Manchester United, told employees he was banning working from home after one of his companies failed to miss key metrics.

According to The Guardian, last week during an all-employee video call, Ratcliffe told employees they needed to start coming into the office or “seek alternative employment.”

Ratcliffe, the 103rd richest man in the world, bought a 27.7% stake in the football club in February, with his company Ineos taking over management of the football operations. A billionaire is gaining strength by abandoning his company’s flexible working policy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic to boost productivity.

According to The Guardian, the policy change was largely due to a decline in email traffic.

Ratcliffe told Manchester United employees that traffic dropped by 20% after one of his companies introduced the option of working from home on Fridays.

Staff have also come under fire after Ratcliffe criticized the mess at the club last week. According to The Athletic, the billionaire told employees that the state of the club’s IT department was a “disgrace” and that other areas of the training ground were not much better.

However, rigorous policy change comes with its own challenges. The Athletic reported that there was not enough space at the company’s headquarters in Manchester and London to accommodate all the employees coming to the office full-time.

Many other companies have taken the same tough approach to getting employees back into the office. Earlier this year, Dell gave its employees a similar ultimatum: return to the office or you won’t get a promotion. Other companies enforcing strict return-to-the-office orders include Apple, Meta and Google.

However, not everyone agrees that RTO mandates are the best way to increase productivity. Globant, a software company with 30,000 employees, enables all its employees to work fully remotely.

Some studies have also questioned the effectiveness of RTO mandates. A recent study of S&P 500 companies by researchers at the Katz Graduate School of Business found that companies with strict RTO policies were not more profitable, and employees were not necessarily more productive.