Wigan Council staff could keep working from home

More time working from home and less in the office could be the future for Wigan public sector employees.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 3:47 pm
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 3:50 pm

Wigan Today understands the council is in the early stages of considering reducing the number of people travelling to their desks everyday among its workforce.

This could potentially free up space in the local authority’s property portfolio to be converted to other uses.

Trade unions have said the idea is not far enough advanced to take a view or give public comment at the moment.

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Council employees could be working from home more often. Photo by Adobe Stock

But Wigan Council has not denied it is looking at greater amounts of working from home and gave some indications of its thinking on the topic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen far more people than ever before working from home as people were ordered not to leave their houses except in limited circumstances during lockdowns to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The council suggested there may be lessons from this experience that can be taken forward into the future and hinted that less commuting into offices could help the town hall achieve its green goals.

Lisa Selby, assistant director for human resources at Wigan Council, said: “As a council we have previously led the way on flexible working which our workforce embraced but like so many organisations we are reflecting on what we have learnt during the pandemic and importantly how we can build on the new and different ways many of our teams have needed to work to support our residents through the pandemic.

“Strengthening the work in our communities, ensuring that our residents have digital access to services, the impact on the environment and how we can work more efficiently in the future will all be things to consider.

“Above all else our focus remains on delivering the best possible outcomes for our residents, communities and our borough.”

The future of office work has been the subject of considerable interest and speculation during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government’s roadmap envisages all social distancing measures and other restrictions being eased by mid-June, but some prominent businesses have publicly spoken of starting a phased return before that.

It seems likely that flexible working, with a mixture of time in the office and at home, will be more common post-Covid and several leading firms across the country have committed to making that a permanent arrangement.

However, academics have raised a number of questions about changes in workplace culture that will be needed to support this as well as highlighting potential dangers of loneliness and losing the office as a social environment.

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