Arup embraces seven-day work week with flexible hours

21 May 2021 4 min. read

Arup has launched a new hybrid work model designed to allow its 6,000 UK employees to choose their working days across a seven-day week.

Engineering consultancy Arup has a broadly positive four-star rating on employment platform Glassdoor, where staff can rate their bosses on a number of criteria. However, the firm’s working schedule has long been a sticking point for its staff, with "Long hours expected from staff which is often not directly compensated for" being listed in 91 reviews on the firm’s UK page, as well as issues pertaining to managing “work-life balance” recurring 58 different times.

Now, it has become the latest in a succession of professional services firms to deploy flexible working, in the hopes of boosting the work-life balance of its staff.

Arup embraces seven-day work week with flexible hours

Even before the pandemic, a raft of top companies were already looking to adapt their working week to accommodate the needs of their workforce. Flexible working has long been touted as a game-changer when it comes to boosting performance and increasing the inclusivity of the modern workplace – something further illustrated during the lockdown months, with many firms seeing that flexible work actually boosted productivity.

Arup will now offer its staff a hybrid working model, which aims to give its 6,000 UK employees greater flexibility in deciding how and where they work. Known as Work Unbound, the new working model will see include flexible days and working hours across the week – allowing staff to work their hours flexibly over the course of Monday to Sunday, and meaning staff could opt to work over the weekend.

At the same time, working remotely is to become a permanent option, with UK employees able to select their place of work for up to three days of each week, alongside two days spent in one of the Arup offices.

Jerome Frost, Chair of Arup’s UK, India, Middle East and Africa region, said, “Building significant flexibility into our colleagues’ working lives is something we’ve been experimenting with since before the pandemic. With the opportunity to flex working hours over the course of a seven day week, we‘re empowering our members to find a working pattern that allows them to be at their personal best while delivering high quality work for clients.”


As well as being a flexible approach aimed at boosting employee engagement, Work Unbound also allows Arup to operate in a more sustainable way. While office working will remain a crucial part of Arup’s operating model, the reduction in employee travel will also help move the firm closer to its target of net-zero emissions by 2030.

Frost added, “Our offices and colleagues live and work as a part of their community and as we embrace Work Unbound we will continue to invest in our city centre offices across the UK, reimagining our space as creative hubs where we can engage with city leaders, collaborators, and clients as partners in the effort to recover, transform, and thrive.”

Work Unbound was developed using insights gathered from a successful flexible working trials in its offices in Liverpool in the UK, and Queensland in Australia in 2019. During the Liverpool trial, which was conducted before the pandemic over a three-month period between April and July 2019 Arup found that 82% of the 65 colleagues piloting the approach flexed their hours at some point during the pilot – showing they would take advantage of flexibility if given the choice – while remote working was also embraced, as 55% chose to work remotely at some point during the week, compared to only 33% before the pilot commenced.

David Almond, Senior Engineer based in Arup’s Liverpool office, commented, “The flexible working pilot gave me the opportunity to try different ways of working to suit my lifestyle. I found that having the flexibility and freedom to work whichever hours, suited the demands of a young family.”

“It allowed me to make the most of my downtime, and ultimately have a healthier work-life balance. It also opened other options for travel to work as I wasn’t constrained to certain times or modes and working from home occasionally removed the commute altogether – time which was spent productively elsewhere.”