Majority of civil servants found to 'shun the office in favour of WfH'

Whitehall staff shun the office as it emerges 80% of civil servants from three major departments worked from home during hot spell

  • The government has announced plans to crackdown on working from home 

The majority of civil servants across three Whitehall departments work from home rather than the office during the heat, it has been reported.

Britain has been hit by a surprise heatwave this week with temperatures reaching more than 30C on Wednesday while Greece and Spain have been hit with storms.

However, with the hot temperatures, it has been found that only one in five employees may have been working in the office rather than remotely on Wednesday, based on the numbers arriving to work.

The Met Office has predicted the longest September heatwave on record and temperatures are set to top 30C in some areas for an entire week.

While temperatures just fell short of breaking the record for the hottest day of the year on Wednesday, Thursday may be the day that it is finally broken as parts of the southwest of England will reach 32C, putting them a hair’s breadth away from beating the 32.2C record set on June 10 this year in Chertsey, Surrey.

On Wednesday, 884 civil servants entered Marsham Street, which houses the Home Office, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, on Wednesday, according to The Telegraph.

Also, a freedom of information request by Sky News found that last year there were 2,012 desks allocated for the Home Office, 1,145 desks allocated to Defra and 1,170 allocated to Levelling up, with a total of 4,327.

The government has announced plans to crackdown on the public sector working from home

The government isn’t the only employer cracking down on working from home culture, which began during the pandemic

In the most recently published government figures for occupancy rates for the departments for the week beginning August 21, 51% of employees were working in the office at Defra, 49% were in the office in the Home Office and 62% were at work for the Development for Levelling Up.

HM Revenues and Customs work remotely for at least one day of the working week which is a higher proportion than during the first national lockdown.

The Telegraph also reported that Downing Street is set to issue new guidance to all government departments as part of a crackdown on working from home.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has ordered a review of public sector productivity to boost by at least 0.5% per year after new figures showed the civil service pay has risen.

The number earning more than £100,000 a year has nearly doubled.

A government spokesman said: ‘There is agreement across government on the clear benefits from face-to-face, collaborative working and departments remain committed to staff coming into workplaces for this.

‘We are ensuring that buildings are being used so we achieve maximum value for money.’

Meanwhile, the Met Office has predicted the longest September heatwave on record with temperatures set to top 30C

However, even the banking sector is also reportedly cracking down on working from home.

According to the FT, Lloyds is offering free food to entice staff to spend at least two days in the office from Monday.

HSBC also announced a tighter policy over the summer.

Goldman Sachs’ chief executive David Solomon once described homeworking as ‘an aberration.

Meanwhile, the UK Health Security Agency has upgraded its heat health alert to amber across every region of England apart from the North East, where a yellow alert is in place.

The six-day alert, which will run until Sunday night, warns of higher death rates and ‘significant impacts’ on vulnerable people and the NHS.

These impacts are likely to be felt across the health service, with those aged above 65 or those with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular disease at greater risk.

It comes as autumn begins in an unseasonably warm fashion after a disappointing summer that saw Britain endure its sixth wettest July since records began.

Mail Online contacted the Cabinet Office for comment. 

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