British Gas boss still working from home as complaints soar and customers face rising energy bills

British Gas boss still working from home as complaints soar and customers face rising energy bills

  • British Gas boss works from home amid national energy crisis and rising customer complaints
  • Chris O’Shea, chief executive of Centrica, owner of British Gas, told Money Mail he would not return to the office five days a week.
  • It comes less than two weeks after officials were told to return to their desks in a bid to boost economic recovery










The British Gas boss is working from home amid a national energy crisis and a rise in customer complaints.

Chris O’Shea, chief executive of Centrica, owner of British Gas, told Money Mail he will not be returning to the office five days a week despite work from home guidelines ending last month. Instead, he will stay home at least one or two days a week under the company’s new flexible working policy.

It comes less than two weeks after civil servants were told to return to their desks in a bid to boost economic recovery from the pandemic. The government hopes the return to office work will help struggling businesses in the city centers of “ghost towns”, whose revenue has been decimated during the lockdown.

Chris O’Shea (pictured), chief executive of Centrica, owner of British Gas, told Money Mail he would not return to the office five days a week

Critics also blame the shift to working from home for falling customer service standards at large companies, with call wait times skyrocketing.

Complaints about British Gas have fallen from 105,651 in the three months to September 2020 to 154,430 in the same period of 2021.

And complaints about the company’s HomeCare cover, which provides boiler insurance, more than doubled in the first half of last year to 191,414 from 69,665 in the same six months of 2020.

Customers said they faced weeks without heat or hot water while engineers repeatedly failed to show up as promised.

The company last week received Money Mail’s Wooden Spoon award for Britain’s worst customer service, as voted on by readers.

Britain is also facing a national energy crisis, with the average annual bill expected to hit £2,000 later this year.

On its website, the energy giant claimed that its “Flexible First” working policy for its 6,000 contact center workers would allow staff “to enjoy a better work-life balance to do things like managing childcare, care responsibilities, or getting in shape.”

Britain is also facing a national energy crisis, with the average annual bill expected to hit £2,000 later this year.

Britain is also facing a national energy crisis, with the average annual bill expected to hit £2,000 later this year.

Speaking from his home near Reading, Mr O’Shea – who earns £775,000 a year before benefits, bonuses and shares – said he had asked his personnel manager to consider options flexible work plans, but that he had been told that he would have to stick to the policy too to make it work.

“I’m a firm believer that people pay more attention to what you do than what you say,” he said. ‘I am committed to [a flexible policy] and I like to keep my word so that I don’t go back to the office five days a week.

Mr O’Shea, who was appointed chief executive in April 2020, said the ability to run call centers from home would help “give customers what they want, when they want it”.

Speaking from his home near Reading, Mr O'Shea - who earns £775,000 a year before benefits, bonuses and shares - said he had asked his personnel manager to consider options flexible work.

Speaking from his home near Reading, Mr O’Shea – who earns £775,000 a year before benefits, bonuses and shares – said he had asked his personnel manager to consider options flexible work.

But he added that while it’s great when it works, “when it doesn’t it’s a nightmare”.

Consumer expert Helen Dewdney, founder of The Complaining Cow website, said there was “no excuse” for Mr O’Shea to stay home.

She added: “There is an ongoing energy crisis and customers are fed up with poor customer service. By working from home, bosses give the impression that they are not taking these issues seriously.

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