27 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Minister demands pre-pandemic working

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The United Kingdom’s Minister for Government Efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg has demanded that Public Servants be ordered to stop working from home so offices can be restored to “full capacity” following the end of COVID-19 restrictions in England.

In a letter, to fellow Ministers, Mr Rees-Mogg (pictured) made it clear he was not in favour of the large-scale hybrid working experiments adopted in other countries and wanted to the Public Service to revert to pre-pandemic working.

He said an average of 44 per cent of Public Servants were working from their Department’s offices on any given day.

“This number must increase to realise the benefits of face-to-face, collaborative working and the wider benefits for the economy,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.

However, it’s common for Departments not to have space for all of their employees to work in the office at once, and many had some hybrid working arrangements in place before the pandemic.

Unions have objected to Mr Rees-Mogg’s comments, with General Secretary of the FDA, Dave Penman saying they demonstrated the Minister was “less interested in productivity or delivery than in spending time counting Civil Servants in and out of buildings”.

Mr Rees-Mogg is one of several high-profile MPs who have called for an end to working from home.

Chair of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, Sir Graham Brady said it was “time for the managers of the Civil Service to get a grip and do their jobs” by forcing staff to return to the office in greater numbers.

“It is simply unacceptable for so many of our Public Servants to continue sitting at home,” Sir Graham said.

“Working from your garden shed or spare room is simply harder. Productivity is reduced,” he said.

“Tasks take longer and work is often delivered when it suits the employee, not when the customer needs it.”

London, 22 April 2022

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