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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Downsizing and office closures: Covid is changing how the charity sector works

 

Snapshot reveals how the pandemic has drastically changed the terrain the voluntary sector operates on

One in five charities is looking at downsizing and closing offices due to the Covid-19 crisis.

In a snapshot that reveals how the pandemic has drastically changed the terrain the voluntary sector operates on, research has also shown that many shifts in ways of working will become permanent.

A UK-wide study by insurer Ecclesiastical shows that 19% of charities are looking at downsizing, while a similar number (17%) are considering closing some or all of their offices.

Nine out of ten (95%) charities are now working remotely, with a third (37%) considering having staff working remotely on a full-time basis.

The move to home working has also given charities an opportunity to review how they operate. Over two fifths (43%) of respondents said that they are considering changing their office arrangements in the future, either through downsizing or sharing with partners.

The findings come as a number of charities announce they are downsizing to better meet their needs. In January the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) announced the sale of its London HQ as part of a modernisation programme to develop new offices which would “better meets the needs of our customers and staff”.  

Ecclesiastical’s Charity Risk Barometer found that almost three quarters of charities (71%) were more concerned about a loss of funding as a result of Covid-19.

This has led to a number of charities including Age UK and Macmillan making redundancies with an estimated 60,000 jobs to be lost in the sector as a result of the pandemic, while Cancer Research has cut pay and reduced working hours.

Other charities have seen demand increase over the last 12 months, meaning their current premises is too small.

Ecclesiastical’s charity director Angus Roy recognised the willingness to adapt as a positive for a sector beset with challenges as a result of the pandemic.

He said: “Covid-19 has challenged us in ways we've never experienced before, but it has also given us a chance to be bold and seize on new opportunities. Be that moving to all staff working from home, downsizing or sharing space with partners.

“The sector has adapted to meeting the needs of its users while changing how it works – which is no mean feat and should be applauded. It is no surprise that thoughts have been turned to how charities can evolve by adapting the way they operate, including the spaces they work from.

“While the continuing threat of a loss of funding plus huge demand continues to drive much of the sector’s decision making – charities have been presented with a unique opportunity to review what works for them and in doing so future proof their organisation.”

The full Charity Risk Barometer can be found on the Ecclesiastical Insurance website.

 

Comments

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Annie Silver
3 months ago

It is okay for third sector organisations to decide that their employees work from home, but some of these employees may well be breaking their tenancy agreements if they work from home. This puts these employees in a precarious position. Organisations/employers need to look carefully at this and be flexible with employees who find themselves in this position. It should not be used as a means to make employees redundant either.