Desk-shy civil servants ordered back to the office after Rees-Mogg warning

Desk-shy civil servants are being ordered back into the office after receiving a warning from Jacob Rees-Mogg.

According to reports, they are being told to spend around 60 percent of their time in the office.

The demand comes after a letter due to be sent to staff boasting about the benefits of working in the office was leaked.

The Sun reported that the letter said working in the office increased “collaboration, innovation, and a sense of community”.

The change in Whitehall is part of an attempted move away from working from home which became the norm during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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While the draft letter did not call for an en masse return to work, it allegedly said: “Ministers therefore asked us to set and implement an expectation of increased office-based working.”

The letter, also seen by Civil Service World, said: “We have together agreed, therefore, that across the civil service, those based in offices will spend a minimum of 60% of their working time working face to face with their colleagues either in offices or on official business, rather than at home.”

In a statement, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg called for a return to “normal” and claimed working from home had a massive impact on “productivity”.

He said: “Working from home has a massive impact on public sector productivity, which is at its lowest since 1997, and means higher taxes because you are paying people more to do the same job… we should work to get back to normal.”

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This isn’t the first time civil servants have been encouraged to return to the office by either Mr Rees-Mogg or other figures from the government.

Mr Rees-Mogg once allegedly left notes on desks in an aim to get staff back into the office. The Mail reported that one note said: “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.”

While the letter is looking for staff to spend 60 percent of their time in the office, it recognised this would not be possible for every single department.

It said: “While most departments in most locations have enough space to implement this new expectation, we know that this is not the case across the board.”

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In a statement following the leak, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I believe there is some detail that has been leaked – I haven’t had a chance to look into the detail.

“We continue and the Prime Minister continues to believe in the importance of face-to-face working and the need to make full use of Government office spaces. That is something we expect the civil service to address.”

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