Ratcliffe cites email traffic in imposing remote work ban at Manchester United

<span>Sir Jim Ratcliffe believes having all staff on-site will allow greater productivity and strengthen unity and collaboration</span><span>Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters</span>
Sir Jim Ratcliffe believes having all staff on-site will allow greater productivity and strengthen unity and collaborationPhotograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Sir Jim Ratcliffe cited email traffic statistics to Manchester United staff as the basis for a ban on working from home and told them to seek ­“alternative employment” if they are not ­willing to come to club premises.

United have had a flexible work-from-home policy since Covid but Ratcliffe signalled an end to this ­during an all-staff meeting held in person and via video call last week as part of his tour of Old Trafford and the Carrington training base.

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He informed the club’s ­approximately 1,000 ­employees that email traffic dropped by 20% when one of his companies ­experimented with work-from-home Fridays, which he cited as the reason for his diktat.

Ratcliffe believes having all staff on site will allow greater ­productivity and strengthen unity and ­collaboration. To emphasise his message United’s ­minority owner, who uses these working ­methods at Ineos, told the ­meeting: “If you don’t like it, please seek ­alternative employment.”

The news was met with ­bemusement by some staff who view as shortsighted Ratcliffe’s ­explanation for changing their ­working practices. It has also become a humorous topic because there is not enough space in Manchester and at the club’s London premises to accommodate all staff owing to some being used for hospitality and other activities.

A working group has been set up to implement Ratcliffe’s policy. Other challenges to be addressed include dealing with employees who live far from Manchester and London and the fact that some staff are on ­flexible contracts and do not have to work from club offices under their terms.

When Ratcliffe’s buy-in at United was agreed the club said Ineos had been “delegated responsibility for management of football operations” but this is the latest indication his influence stretches further. United’s football staff tend to work from the offices and commercial staff will be more affected by his edict.

During last week’s tour Ratcliffe also ordered ­staff to raise ­standards after describing the level of ­untidiness in offices as a “disgrace” and some dressing rooms as “not much better”.

He is conducting a structural assessment before Omar ­Berrada joins as the chief executive in the ­summer. Berrada is on gardening leave after being headhunted from Manchester City.