Civil Servants Told Return to the Office 3 Days-a-Week mdi-fullscreen

Ministers have ordered civil servants across the board to return back to the office for at least 60% of their working time, according to a draft letter seen by Civil Service World. Officials have finally realised that perhaps our pen pushers working from home is part of the reason for public sector productivity stalling. Across all Whitehall departments only 64% of staff were in the office this Autumn, with HMRC having the lowest turnout of 41%. Perhaps they felt they could put their feet up since our taxes are so high…

The draft letter was signed by “heads of departments” and dated 15th November, two days after John Glen replaced Jeremy Quin as chief secretary to the Treasury, responsible for civil service reform. Nice to see he’s getting on with the job…

Read the draft letter below:

We have together agreed, therefore, that across the civil service, those based in offices will spend a minimum of 60% of their working time working face to face with their colleagues either in offices or on official business, rather than at home. While most departments in most locations have enough space to implement this new expectation, we know that this is not the case across the board. So while the 60% expectation is common to us all, we will each be consulting following our normal processes and communicating with our own departments as in some cases, there will need to be other arrangements put in place due to lack of office space to accommodate a 60% expectation. We will also be communicating individually about the transition arrangements which will be needed in our organisations before we implement the change as needs here will also differ. Discussions with staff will take all equality considerations into account. These include collaboration, innovation, and fostering a sense of community. We know that in particular, junior colleagues benefit from having time face to face with senior leaders and that those early in their careers find working face to face with their peers and managers makes them more effective more quickly. We also agree that to ensure strong visible leadership across sites, we want to see senior managers spending more than 60% of their working time face to face with their colleagues in offices or out on official business. Up until now, home working patterns and expectations have varied between departments. However, almost four years after the start of the pandemic, it is important that we reflect on our experience and what we have learned, “We know that flexibility to adjust where and when you work is very important to you and is a feature of modern professional working life across the public and private sectors. And this remains a fundamental element of our approach to work. We also know that fairness is important to you. Setting a consistent balance across departments will help us to achieve this and retain both the benefits of working face to face and the benefits of time working at home.

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