Rishi’s ‘return to the office’ campaign thwarted by his own department

02/09/2021 – Rishi’s ‘return to the office’ campaign thwarted by his own department

The Telegraph’s article this morning (Treasury civil servants told they can work from home forever) revealed further disunity not just between government departments, but between civil servants and their political masters.

Rishi Sunak has positioned himself as a champion of the drive to return to work, praising “the spontaneity, the team building, the culture that you create in a firm or an organisation from people actually spending physical time together” and warned that closed offices would result in a loss of staff.

While Rishi bangs the drum for the office, his civil servants, revealed the Telegraph, are running job adverts offering permanent opportunities to work from home for two or three weekdays. The paper wonders if the WFH days might coincide with the much-publicised Treasury plan for days to be spent in their proposed northern hub in Darlington.

Government mixed messages widely condemned

Last week Baroness Morrissey added her voice to a chorus of business leaders condemning the government’s mixed messages, proclaiming a return to ‘normal’ 6 weeks ago while at the same time warning employers that a failure to manage covid risks in the workplace could result in HSE prosecutions. The government cannot (surely) continue to tell businesses to do one thing while its own departments do precisely the opposite? The message from government as we stand is muddled and inconsistent and, six weeks after ‘freedom day’ employers are no clearer on what they should be doing. The longer this goes on, the less likely it is that normal working practices will ever resume.

With the government unable to rely on its staff to lead a return to the workplace, it seems unlikely that private sector bosses will have much scope to follow Rishi’s desire to return to the office, other than on a voluntary basis for those staff who prefer not to work at home. In the meantime with almost all of myHRdept’s clients reporting their intention to stick with a 3:2 or a 2:3 model in order to avoid losing staff to more flexible employers, it seems that hybrid working is not just for now, it is forever.

HR support & changes for long term hybrid-working

Hybrid working will however necessitate changes to management practices and HR policies will need to change too. In addition to the obvious health and safety issues (inadequate seating etc.) more attention will need to be paid to data protection, staff inductions, staff engagement etc. Many policies will need to be reviewed (myHRdept’s HR policy pack is currently being updated for 2022) in order to take account of the proliferation of home working, and employers will be monitoring the development of new technology to aid ‘real time’ working.

If you need help updating your policies or creating a homeworking policy, myHRdept’s HR support services are ideal. Included within all of our HR outsourced support packages is a bank of support hours to help manage staff issues. In most cases client HR support hours banks are not impacted by time spent updating handbooks, employment contracts, or introducing new policies.

If you’re thinking of outsourcing your HR or employment law needs, why not contact myHRdept? Call us on 01628 820515, email us at enquiries@myhrdept.co.uk to discuss your requirements, or contact us via our website and we’ll call you back.

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