Back to work! Boris Johnson orders officers to return to their desks while officers (belatedly) try to lead from the front
- The prime minister's goal is that four out of five workers return to Whitehall every week
- At the beginning of the lockdown, 423,000 officers were employed full-time
- A letter to the Whitehall ministries said the goal was to get people back to work
Boris Johnson ordered officers to return to their desks as soon as possible last night.
The Prime Minister has set a goal that four in five workers will return to Whitehall each week by the end of the month.
Mandarins are required to provide weekly staff numbers to monitor progress.
When the lockdown began, there were 423,000 full-time officers in the Whitehall departments.
The Prime Minister has set a goal that four in five workers will return to Whitehall each week by the end of the month
Permanent secretaries received instructions yesterday evening to "act quickly" to "bring more staff back to the office" to take advantage of the return to schools and improved public transport.
In a letter to all Whitehall ministries seen by the Post, Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and Public Service Chief Alex Chisholm said the Prime Minister had "made it clear that his aim is to get as many people back on the safe side as possible Way to bring to the workplace ".
At a cabinet meeting earlier this week, they said ministers had agreed that "increasing both the number of people in the office and the time they spend in the office" would be "extremely beneficial" to the civil service.
"The Prime Minister also understands that getting more people back to work safely in Covid will improve the public services we provide and also significantly boost the local economy in which they are based," they added.
The letter warned that the large number of civil servants working from home has resulted in "reduced social interaction among our colleagues, with some of the spontaneous interaction and cross-fertilization between teams being lost, innovation and promote sustainable common goals ”.
It added, “There have also been challenges in bringing in new or inexperienced colleagues and limitations in our ability to mentor and develop our people.
"In short, the government believes that, by and large, there are significant benefits to working in an office environment. If possible, colleagues should now return to the office according to Covid-safe levels."
Public service directors said the goal is to have 80 percent of employees "visit their usual place of work every week" using a rota system with some only arriving for two or three days.
In a letter to all Whitehall Ministries, Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and Chief of Public Services, Alex Chisholm said the Prime Minister's goal was to get as many people as possible back to work safely
The push is a victory for the Post, which has urged more officials to return to their desks to set an example for the rest of the country.
In a sign that action is finally being taken, Interior Ministry officials were told yesterday that they would be expected back immediately.
The division's permanent secretary, Matthew Rycroft, said this would enable them to perform "fully and effectively."
The Mail continued to monitor the workforce in Whitehall. Only 5 percent of employees showed up to work in ministries this week.
With millions of students returning to classrooms this week, it was likely a busy week in the Department of Education offices that housed up to 2,000 staff prior to the pandemic.
Nevertheless, only 103 employees arrived at the seven-story headquarters on Tuesday and 120 on Thursday – that's only six percent of capacity.
In the department for corporate, energy and industrial strategy, which normally has 1,800 employees, the number of employees was only three digits.
Excerpts from the letter
It is clear to the Prime Minister that returning more people in a Covid-proof manner will improve the public services we provide and also significantly boost the local economy in which they are based.
We have noted lower levels of social interaction among our peers, with some of the spontaneous interaction and cross-fertilization between teams that drive innovation and sustainable shared goals has been lost.
There have also been challenges in including new or inexperienced colleges and limitations in the ability to mentor and develop our employees, especially early on in their careers. This is reportedly most acute for those who do not have easy access to quality home office work, for those in rental housing, and for younger colleagues early on in their careers.
In short, the government believes that there are significant overall benefits to working together in an office environment and that colleagues should now return to the office where possible according to Covid-safe levels.
Chief Operating Officer of the Public Service
Sir Mark Sedwill
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