Old Trafford
Employees of Manchester United have been ordered by new co-owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, to return to the office full-time. Mylo Kaye/Pexels

The new minority owner at Manchester United, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, has ordered club employees to return to the office full-time.

In February, the INEOS founder and CEO purchased a 27.5 per cent stake in the Premier League club for £1.25 billion. His ownership at Manchester United has granted him full authority over sporting operations at the club, but evidently, he is keen to set standards throughout the organisation.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, staff at Manchester United have been allowed to follow a flexible remote working schedule. However, that privilege will end soon as all staff must operate from the club's offices in London and Manchester from June 1.

Ratcliffe informed the 1000 club employees of the return-to-office mandate through a video call and in-person meeting with staff whilst touring the club's premises last week. The British billionaire is insistent on staff following his new working model, which includes a full-time return to the office and a focus on in-person collaboration. He made it clear to anyone that they should "seek ­alternative employment" if they are unwilling to follow it.

The 71-year-old explained to the employees that email traffic was the main factor in his decision to switch the working model. At one of his other companies, he found that traffic fell by 20 per cent due to a work-from-home policy being trialled on Fridays.

Ratcliffe's decision to eliminate the remote working model is driven by a belief that it will enhance collaboration among employees, foster a more productive environment, and create a unified workplace. This shift, he believes, will ultimately benefit the club.

The proposed change has not gone down well among club staff as they believe Ratcliffe's impending policy has not been thought through properly. They are particularly concerned about the limited office space, which may make it difficult for all staff to work from the Manchester and London offices. Ratcliffe acknowledges these concerns and is actively exploring solutions, such as office expansion or the use of satellite offices, to address this issue.

Many employees have had to work from home as there is also not enough room in the club's stadium, Old Trafford, and the Carrington training base.

Ratcliffe's new policy will affect club staff based in areas outside of London and Manchester, as they will not be near any of the Premier League side's offices. These individuals will have a tough choice over whether to relocate permanently, travel to and from work every day or quit.

Additionally, some employees do not require in-person appearances at company offices as their contracts give them that privilege. This may make it difficult for Ratcliffe to implement his new policy fully, so some compromises may need to be made with workers.

Ratcliffe has wasted little time pointing out his issues with the club's operations, as he also sent out an email to employees a few weeks ago regarding poor cleanliness. In the message, he mentioned that after inspecting the club's facilities, he was unfortunately "struck in many places by a high degree of untidiness."

Most notably, the state of the IT department was branded "a disgrace", whilst the youth team dressing rooms were labelled as "not much better."

While Ratcliffe's primary focus is on enhancing Manchester United's sporting sector, he is also committed to addressing off-field issues. The state of Old Trafford, which has been a concern for several years, is a top priority for him.

During Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Arsenal, Old Trafford's shortcomings were exposed as rain poured down during the afternoon clash. Videos circulating on social media showed the stadium roof leaking and the seating area flooded. There was also water leaking through the roof of the away-team dressing room.