25% of staff working in the office at Government department, minister says

·2-min read

Around 25% of staff in a Government department are currently in the office on any one day, a minister has said.

Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, was asked on Times Radio on Tuesday morning how many civil servants have returned to the office.

The minister estimated that in the Department for Education the figure is around 20-25% on any one day.

The Government is no longer instructing people to work from home, and is instead saying that it will leave the decision over returning to the workplace to businesses.

Gillian Keegan (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)
Gillian Keegan (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

But Government advice also says it “expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer”.

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak told LinkedIn News on Monday that it was “really beneficial” working in an office environment early in his career.

He said he made “strong relationships” at the office and still talks to his early mentors, and doubted if he would have been able to do so if working remotely when starting work.

“That’s why I think, for young people in particular, being able to physically be in an office is valuable,” he said.

Ms Keegan told Times Radio on Tuesday: “I have been in the office four days a week since June last year, as have many of us you know, because obviously we have had to navigate these very difficult decisions during the pandemic.

“And many of the civil servants are also back now, more and more are coming back, and quite frankly they are all excited to come back.”

Office workers (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Office workers (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

She added: “We have been there all the time as have many civil servants who support us.

“Of course, the Government’s advice was to work from home and we have only recently changed that advice to say it is safe to go back to the office.”

She said the Government has said “use the summer to sort of reintroduce people coming back”.

Asked how many civil servants are back in the office, she said: “In the DfE, I would say probably 20-25% at the moment on any one day, obviously different people are coming in different days.”

She added: “I think we have led by example and I think more and more people will, but we have said ‘use the summer to get people coming back, get people comfortable with coming back’, and you know not everybody will be back all the time, flexible working will be part of our future and we are not telling businesses what to do.”

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