Slater and Gordon is closing its London office as part of a plan for staff to work from home on a permanent basis.

Staff were told this week that the PI firm is going to leave its London office in September at the end of its two-year lease, and that the position of the other six offices would be reviewed.

“We have announced to our staff that we won’t ever go back to how we worked before Covid", said David Whitmore, Slater and Gordon’s chief executive. S+G's intention is to find a smaller City office to host meetings.

Slater and Gordon has already placed its head office in Manchester on the market, RollOnFriday can reveal. Slaters took a 15 year lease of the 100,000 sq ft space, which was occupied by Cobbetts until it went bust, in 2014, at a cost understood to be £22.50/sq ft.

Sub-tenants were being sought for two floors which have been vacant for some time, but in March the firm began marketing the whole building. With almost ten years left on the lease, a disposal could save Slaters millions.


mos

Be a breeze getting rid of eight floors of office space in Manchester, especially in this market.


A spokesperson declined to confirm whether the Manchester office closure was part of the office downsizing plan. But he said that reports from sources that there were "mass redundancies on the horizon" were "wrong", although he declined to specify how many job losses would result from the WFH strategy.

“When we do look to return to our offices they won’t look like they used to and colleagues will be encouraged to continue working remotely for the majority of the time", said Whitmore. "Working smart is better for everyone. Our colleagues and our customers. It’s the S+G Way."

Closing offices certainly is the S+G way. Since 2017 the Golden Turd 2020 winner has shuttered in Chester, Wrexham, Milton Keynes and Preston. Last year it shut in Leeds with the loss of 25 fee-earners, placed 100 staff at its Watford office at risk of redundancy, and made job cuts in Birmingham.

However, it is very unlikely to be the only law firm which rejects a return to office life. As well as slashing rent bills, the move will be popular with staff who are reluctant to return to work because they have safety concerns, or because they prefer the flexibility and convenience of a commute which begins with lying in bed and ends with sitting up in bed.

Critics have flagged that staff who don't have large homes which can accommodate a private office will struggle with long term WFH. It remains to be seen whether Slaters will stump up for house extensions, but if it does, expect more employees to broadcast morale-boosting thought explosions.

Tip Off ROF

Comments

Anonymous 29 May 20 08:54

If you go back to 2016 the following offices have been closed by Slaters.

Leeds, Halifax, Derby, Ashton Under-Lyne, Failsworth, Bristol, Chester, Waterloo (Merseyside), Bramhall, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Preston, Sheffield, Fareham, Chelmsford, Wakefield, Wrexham, Watford.

Only about 2000 people #SGWAY

Anonymous 29 May 20 09:18

Moving too far away from an office environment will be terrible for social mobility and D&I if this goes on for too long.

Anonymous 29 May 20 09:19

I see this as a good thing: offices are largely  an anachronism now. The WFH experiment has largely worked, and now many firms can reduce hefty rent bills for the benefit of staff. Without the tie of an office, staff can live wherever they want, not lose hours a day commuting, and reduce environmental impacts from travelling too.
 

Hopefully more (and betters firms will do this soon too.

Anonymous 29 May 20 09:40

For some reason no one ever mentions Aldershot in the closures...but it definitely happened. 

Anonymous 29 May 20 11:05

Imagine being the finance director for this shower! God knows who will buy this outfit from the hedge fund?

Cor Byn 29 May 20 11:10

Well if Dominic Cummings can work from homes around the country, why can't the rest of us?

Anonymous 29 May 20 11:28

Because, Cor Byn, even claimant PI solicitors have more compassion, humanity, civility, decency and sense than Dominic Cummings.

Tick Tock 29 May 20 11:47

The Manchester office has been on the market since March 2020 all 8 floors! So much for lessons learned over the past few months! Honest and transparent leadership I think not....

#SGWAY

Anonymous 29 May 20 13:16

Was it not SG’s got talent last night?! This firm is getting ridiculously cringey! 

Anonymous 29 May 20 14:38

It's possibly deliberate.  They may actually be setting out to be considered comical rather than tragic.

Anonymous 29 May 20 18:32

Astute property moves and S&G are you taking the piss?  Whitmore says one thing and then does the other promised the Leeds staff that we’d always have an office in the city then shutting it down. Centres of excellence is the term banded around!

Sam 29 May 20 19:23

Yet again the great unwashed of the legal world provide their musing with their hateful, bitter comments. Sucks to be you ! 

Simon 29 May 20 20:30

I wonder if all the bitter comments on this about s&g are from the same losers who left yrs ago & ended up in tinpot firms & spend all their time wishing s&g fails? The same type that promote themselves endlessly... 

Sam Sam 29 May 20 20:33

Sam 19.23 over 2000 people have been shafted by this mob that is why hateful comments come in from all over the country!

 

Harlem 29 May 20 21:24

The S&G management team are very different from years gone by. In PI they seem to care and try to do there best. It’s a good place to work !

Big Clive Anderson 29 May 20 21:40

Our Simon - S&G will fail as the business model is a mess with a £2 million black hole in Manchester every year until 2030🚑

anon 29 May 20 22:59

Things to consider for a permanent wfh setup

I’m sure a full DSE will be required? Proper chair and correct height desk of some sort, not sure where a permanent place a home would be for the majority of those who do not have luxuries of spare rooms or study rooms.

think of those who work from a breakfast bar and stool and those who setup and take down the screens daily on the family dining table and those just managing sat at the end of their beds etc not bad for the short term but a lot to consider for long term

also any chance of contributing to or paying my broadband and tel calls from my devices?

S+G way or the highway 29 May 20 23:04

The way they mislead staff time and time again is disgraceful. The spin they have put on this (“home working has worked so well” etc etc) is despicable. This closing of offices whilst misleading staff that all is well is their modus operandi and they have done it time and time again. Throughout lockdown they have reassured staff that the business is thriving but now closing London office (which FYI was in the process of being downsized prior to covid19/lockdown). They are the only firm I know who have not suspended targets during the crisis. No leavers are being replaced. The whole thing is a shit show! As for the Newly appointed “ambassadors” plastered all over LinkedIn - who are the trying to convince?! Us or themselves. All the good people who are left please open your eyes and move on, you are worth so much more than being treated like trash by hedge fund pond feeders! *we don’t wait we create*

Frank 29 May 20 23:39

Hedge fund S&G don’t mention they have furloughed staff.  Are these the next to face redundancy? Experienced employees of S&G take what the management say with a very large pinch of salt. 

Oh dear 30 May 20 18:31

@ Harlem 21:24 you poor lost soul, you've fallen for the management spiel.  Do you really think that DW, AA, MB and the gang really care about your jobs.  No is the answer they are just feathering their nests before the axe falls.  Fentons management cared, S&G management only care for all the money they can make.

SecularJurist 30 May 20 18:58

The downside of working from home instead for a virtual  firm or Chambers (will will happen out of necessity in order for the firm or set to survive financially) is that there are many who are not living in large houses or apartments with a home as office, especially those at the junior end (those of a few years call or PQE), those sharing a household with s.o. noxious or noisy, of there is only one PC in the household. The other issue is the guarding of confidential documents. Confidential cons with clients , or between counsel and solicitors may be a problem, so the virtual office won't be the norm.

While it saves on commuting, there is still the social mobility and confidentiality issues as hinted above. 

Anonymous 30 May 20 21:20

If I was a 20-30 something employee I would be pissed! Social life at S&G is now Zoom lovin it !

 Interesting to see all the management love the magic of working from an attic with a family! 

Happy at 🏡 31 May 20 09:44

I find I get so much more done working from home. Less distractions and interruptions but my children have flown the nest and I have plenty of room at home.  I don’t need physical files. Everything is online. What’s needed is great tech.  Not so great for trainees, the newly qualified or extroverts. Unfortunately, being able to work from home means I couldn’t be furloughed.  The lucky buggers who get a few weeks off are fortunate. We are all going to pay the price for that in the future.

Anonymous 31 May 20 11:50

Try working from home in a house share.  Dodgy internet. 1 room only. No office space. Crappy lap top. Not fun. 

Anony Mouse 04 June 20 22:28

“We’re looking for a more appropriate, smaller, city location for the Leeds Office....... Leeds Office closes.

The firm is easier to sell off, if it has less liabilities.

MB 05 June 20 00:08

Of course you can trust the management...we do what we say we do and respect and encourage each other and so we won’t wait, we will create time to live for our employees by making them redundant ...the S&G Way

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