Civil servants are more likely to work from home than anyone else – despite a push to get workers into the office.
More than 44 percent of government employees said their residence was their main place of work between January and March this year.
This is the highest proportion of employees mainly working from home at any type of organization, an analysis of Office for National Statistics data by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found.
And it comes as many big businesses are now pushing employees to come back into the office more instead of working from home all the time.
Tory MP and former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “Some of the most successful firms in the world, such as Goldman Sachs, are telling people to get back to work. They know how to be productive.
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“Lots of public services are not working and there are delays across a number of departments.
“The British public are not getting the service they expect from the public sector, and this seems to correlate with working from home.
“People in a shared workspace have an easier opportunity to make decisions and have discussions with the people they’re working with.
“But I think it also provides better routine services for the customer who, in this case, is the British public.”
Meanwhile, health bosses have agreed to deals worth up to £1 million to help civil servants keep working from home.
Tory MP Craig Mackinlay says it is “worrying” that more working from home is being encouraged by the Department of Health and Social Care.
Bosses are buying £316,000 worth of desks, chairs and computer equipment for two years, but contract details show there are provisions to double this to £632,000 for an extra 24 months.
Mr Mackinlay, the MP for South Thanet, said: “New equipment to be installed at civil servants’ homes is both worrying and disappointing.
“The flow should be in the other direction as we’re seeing in the private sector.
“It has become obvious that WFH has resulted in poorer productivity. The waiting time for call answering and action when dealing with any government department has worsened, not improved, upon the shift to seemingly permanent out-of-office working.”
Nearly a third of desks at the department’s headquarters remain empty after the government ordered workers to stay at home during the lockdown more than three years ago.
The Prospect union, which represents around 28,000 civil servants, last year said they could be allowed to tailor their work around “life events” such as the school run.
Tory MP Sir Jake Berry said: “Britain has a big problem with productivity and I think the wholesale work-from-home culture is partially to blame. It’s time for the Government to show leadership and get Whitehall civil servants back into the office.”
The ONS said earlier this year that the percentage of working adults having been based at home has varied between 25 and 40 percent throughout 2022.
It suggested home working is resilient to pressures such as the end of Covid restrictions and increases in the cost of living. A government spokesperson said: “This data is self-reported, and also includes people who work both in the office and at home.
“The latest statistics for occupancy of departmental headquarters show more and more staff are in the office.
“That said, we continue to work to boost office attendance even further to ensure buildings are being used, so we achieve maximum value for money for the taxpayer.”
The Department of Health said: “Over the past two years, the Civil Service has had to work in a more agile way while still delivering essential public services.
“Before the pandemic, most departments worked on a basis of a ratio of desks to staff and that remains the case – therefore hybrid working arrangements are not new. We embrace flexible working and have set an expectation of working eight days in the office per month and days are agreed across teams.”
Health issues have also hampered people’s ability to return to the office post-pandemic.
Long-term sickness hit a record 2.5 million, official figures revealed earlier this month.
Some ailments were blamed partly on back and neck pain caused by working from home.
Research by the ONS showed most of the rise in long-term sickness had come since early 2020, when the pandemic started.
The figures showed tens of thousands more people reporting “disabilities connected with the back or neck”.
The ONS report said: “It is possible that increased home working since the pandemic has given rise to these kinds of chronic conditions.”
A rise in mental health problems among young people and long-Covid were also among the factors behind the surge, the
The department also pointed to a spike in “depression, bad nerves and anxiety”. Now, for every 13 workers, there is one person who is long-term sick.