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Rees-Mogg Urges Civil Servants to Make Use of London Office Space

Rees-Mogg Urges Civil Servants to Make Use of London Office Space
19 April 2022 | Updated 16 May 2022
 

Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, in a letter to cabinet colleagues, is urging civil servants to reduce how much time they spend working from home.

In a letter seen by the BBC, Jacob Rees-Mogg addressed the heads of government departments, asking them to "review any guidance within your departments that sets an expectation of the minimum number of days in the office per week."

The letter, dated 13 April 2022, also included statistics showing office occupancy data from the week commencing 4 April 2022, where daily averages of staff in the workplace were lower than a third in some departments.

It also stated that Jacob Rees-Mogg wants to "ensure we are making efficient use of the central London estate".

The relaxing of COVID-19 prevention rules in January 2022 saw an official end to the government’s recommendation for people to work from home.

 

An Outdated Approach?

 

Andrew Mawson, Managing Director of Advanced Workplace Associates, feels that demanding that civil servants spend more time in the office is an example of “old style thinking” and goes against the flexible working practices that the civil service has been increasingly embracing over the last 15 years:

“If the government is serious about improving efficiency, it should take advantage of the benefits of hybrid working which would not only reflect how employees want to work but also, if well thought out and managed, free up expensive office space and help with Boris Johnson’s levelling-up agenda by allowing more civil servants to work away from London.”

Former Brexit Party MEP in the West Midlands constituency Rupert Lowe, made his opinion clear on the matter with this tweet:

 

He also tweeted: “It comes as absolutely no surprise that vast numbers of Whitehall bureaucrats are working from home. 'Working' is used loosely.”

Nick Fletcher, the Conservative MP for Don Valley, also took issue with the number of civil servants working from home:

 

 

Desk Space in Cabinet Offices

 

Jordan Urban and Sam Freedman, both from the Institute for Government, feels that a lack of office space for government employees is another issue at play here: 

 

 

 

Image

 

Risk of COVID-19

 

The Merseytravel Branch of UNISON, the public service union, tweeted about the importance of home working as a COVID-19 prevention measure:

 

 

Naomi Rovnick, who writes for the Financial Times, also tweeted about the relationship between COVID-19 restriction relaxation and home working: 

 

 

Picture: a photograph of Jacob Rees-Mogg. Image Credit:https://members.parliament.uk/member/4099/portrait via an Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 19 April 2022

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