Opinion: Walmart is right – head offices must be an asset, not a burden

Walmart home office Bentonville

Retailers the world over have already had to make some huge strategic calls in their short-term responses to the coronavirus crisis.

But one of the biggest decisions yet, one that could have enduring implications on everything from the culture to the cost base of their business, is one that is now being thought through: what does the pandemic mean for the future of our offices and ways of working?

Many will be starting to survey their employees, or may have already done so, to garner their views. There is a plethora of factors to consider – rental bills, utility costs, safety and mental health, to name but a few.

It is likely to be a minefield for retailers – different employees will harbour individual wants and needs – but the old adage of listening to colleagues will be more important now than it has ever been.

There will be no one-size-fits-all solution, but retailers must be careful not to be suckered in by the ‘death of the office’ narrative and carefully consider all of the pros and cons their headquarters offer before mapping out what the future might look like.

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