Ongoing homeworking will erode government skills, minister claims

Written by Beckie Smith on 1 August 2022 in News
News

Kit Malthouse tells podcast that he believes officials ought to spend three or four days a week in the office

Credit: Pexels/Pixabay

Too much remote working could dent civil servants’ skills and ultimately damage public services, Cabinet Office minister Kit Malthouse has said.

The number of civil servants working from home is a “problem”, Malthouse said – but his comments to Chopper’s Politics Podcast showed a greater acceptance of hybrid working than his colleague Jacob Rees-Mogg.

While the government efficiency minister has shown little tolerance for officials spending any time out of the office – interpreting half-empty buildings as evidence that people are not coming into the office at all – Malthouse said he wanted them to spend at least three days a week with their co-workers.

But asked by podcast host Christopher Hope, the Daily Telegraph's associate editor, if civil servants working from home could damage the delivery of public services, he said: “Over time, it will because they won’t be as skilled. My personal view is I would think it would be a bit odd if you weren’t spending three to four days a week in the office.”


Related content


The Cabinet Office minister, who stepped into the role following a wave of resignations that ultimately toppled prime minister Boris Johnson earlier this month, said he was especially concerned about younger staff working from home.

“There’s a critical issue I think, at the heart of this that we have to face, and that is our obligation to young people,” he said. “Young people cannot learn remotely if they’re sitting in their bedroom, in their little flats as a junior civil servant, they do not pick up the nuance, the skills, the informal mentoring that more senior officials and indeed politicians can provide.”

He added: “Young people need to see a variety of senior people and to learn from a variety of people and they need to encounter you. And to be perfectly honest with you, young people found it very soul-destroying being stuck at home – it was quite depressing.”

High-profile attacks on civil service work-from-home arrangements have lessened in recent months, but Malthouse’s comments demonstrate pressure remains on departments to ensure staff are spending a minimum proportion of their time in offices.

 

About the author

Beckie Smith is deputy editor for PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World, where a version of this story first appeared. She tweets as @beckie__smith.

Tags

Share this page

Tags

Categories

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS

Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Leaders want public sector to become ‘digital to the core’ to cope with challenges
9 November 2022

Reports identify importance of technology skills to help meet service demand in spite of financial pressures

Civil service plans for high-tech hubs downsized as data shows drop in office occupancy
14 October 2022

Government Property Agency chief tells MPs that previous assumptions about buildings being two-thirds full have been reset

Government grad scheme officials consider strike action
15 November 2022

Talks over pay for the Fast Stream programme – which contains a strong DDaT contingent – have stalled

GDS Academy to close
9 November 2022

Initiative that provided digital skills training to several thousand officials each year is shutting down this month