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Office Working

Volume 715: debated on Thursday 26 May 2022

6. What her policy is on the proportion of time that officials in her Department are expected to work from departmental premises. (900243)

We operate hybrid working, whereby staff are expected to spend, on average, two days a week in the office, recognising that some roles require more office-based work than others. This is designed to maximise the use of our office capacity, as we currently have 800 desks for 2,000 staff in London. There are huge advantages to working in the office, but also to working at home, including fostering a sense of community and belonging. I am fully supportive of the hybrid approach.

Figures released in April showed that 43% of staff in the Department were working on departmental premises. Can the Secretary of State tell me what proportion of staff in her Department were working from home before the pandemic; what the proportion is now; and what steps she is taking with the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency to encourage more civil servants to work in the Department?

Before covid-19, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport followed a “smarter working” operating model where occasional working from home was an option. This enabled us to reduce our desk capacity to save money, and, typically, we expected about 40% of staff to be working from home, or from another location, on any given day. Since covid regulations were relaxed, staff in my Department have been returning to the office as part of a hybrid working operating model, with an expectation of some working from home. As I said, we have 800 desks for 2,000—well, 2,180—staff in our London office. The occupancy levels continue to increase, with an almost 80% occupancy on some days, but those figures are of the capacity that we have available to actually sit staff down in the Department. Due to our desk ratio, we now expect about 60% of our London-based staff to be working from home, or from another location, such as Manchester, on any given day.