Whitehall pays nearly £600,000 of taxpayers’ money to ask staff: Do you like working from home?

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  • Only 3% of employees wanted to go back to the office full-time after lockdown

Nearly £590,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent on asking civil servants how they feel about the office and working from home, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

While Ministers have been ordering officials back to their desks, mandarins have paid a fortune for reports concluding that they prefer working from home – and then using the reports to reshape the Civil Service.

The work has been driven by the Government Property Agency (GPA), a quango in charge of all Government office space. It claims to be ‘helping transform the way the Civil Service works and reshaping the relationship civil servants have with their place of work’.

Since 2020 it has paid more than half a million pounds to Leesman, a consultancy that measures workplace happiness. In its annual accounts, the GPA said the Leesman surveys are ‘proving valuable in providing actionable insight’.

Its survey concluded that only three per cent of employees wanted to go back to the office full-time after lockdown (Stock photo of Whitehall)

Its survey concluded that only three per cent of employees wanted to go back to the office full-time after lockdown (Stock photo of Whitehall) 

Data released under the Freedom of Information Act shows Whitehall first paid Leesman £87,900 in 2020 during the Covid pandemic to ‘explore how well home working is working for the Civil Service’. It asked officials about their ‘pride and sense of community’ and ‘healthy work-life balance’.

In true Yes, Minister style, Leesman’s number-one recommendation was to ‘establish a cross-departmental workplace experience knowledge transfer group’ to ‘support outstanding remote employee experience’. 

Its survey concluded that only three per cent of employees wanted to go back to the office full-time after lockdown.

In true Yes, Minister style, Leesman's number-one recommendation was to 'establish a cross-departmental workplace experience knowledge transfer group' to 'support outstanding remote employee experience' (Stock photo)

In true Yes, Minister style, Leesman’s number-one recommendation was to ‘establish a cross-departmental workplace experience knowledge transfer group’ to ‘support outstanding remote employee experience’ (Stock photo) 

Leesman has since been given a further £500,000 in public funds to run more surveys – with the amounts growing every year. So far in 2023 the sum is already £272,875.

The GPA calls Leesman a ‘world leader in measuring workplace experience’. It told the MoS: ‘It is critical that civil servants have a voice that shapes their workplaces so that the spaces we deliver can best support them.’

The Cabinet Office said: ‘These surveys… are used to ensure we can maximise the number of people working in the office. Since 2020 any surveys conducted have not included any questions on working from home. Using independent assessments, we can ensure that money spent on office space delivers true value to taxpayers.’

The new revelation follows the MoS report last week that local councils are footing the domestic fuel bills of employees working from home.



Post source: Daily mail

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