Jeremy Hunt warns WFH hits ‘creativity’ as he says coming to the office should be the ‘default’… but Whitehall offices are STILL half-empty
Jeremy Hunt has warned that working from home can hit ‘creativity’ as he insisted going into the office should be the ‘default’ option.
The Chancellor acknowledged video conferencing and other remote tools offer some ‘exciting opportunities’ including being able to ‘stay in touch’ with work while looking after a baby.
But he said he ‘worried’ that firms were losing out through staff not being able to ‘bounce ideas off each other’ – suggesting people should be in the office unless there was a ‘good reason’.
Government figures suggest that Mr Hunt’s views are not being heeded in Whitehall, with some departmental HQs half-empty.
Jeremy Hunt has warned that working from home can hit ‘creativity’ as he insisted going into the office should be the ‘default’ option
The latest Government figures on staff attendance at departmental HQs reveals that the average office is 61 per cent full
Asked about home working at the BCC conference in London this morning, Mr Hunt said: ‘I think it’s something for businesses to find their own way through.
‘There are some very exciting opportunities created by the fact that we’ve all learned to use Zoom and Teams for meetings.’
He suggested that it could help new mothers stay in touch with the workplace and provide ‘choices’ for workers with mobility issues.
‘One example is childcare. It’s not now the case that someone who has a baby needs to be completely out of contact for years and years,’ he said.
When interviewer joked that people being interrupted by children was ‘the joy of the Zoom call’, he said: ‘We all accept that and it’s absolutely fine.’
Aides insisted Mr Hunt had not been endorsing mothers working from home with babies.
But he added: ‘On the other hand, there is nothing like sitting around the table, seeing people face-to-face, developing team spirit – and I worry about the loss of creativity when people are permanently working from home and not having those water cooler moments where they bounce ideas off each other.
‘Not every great business idea happens in a structured, formal meeting.’
Mr Hunt said businesses were now calling for staff to come in. ‘I think the default will be “you work in the office unless there’s a good reason not to be in the office” and gradually we are getting there,’ he said.
The latest Government figures on staff attendance at departmental HQs reveals that the average office is 61 per cent full.
In the week commencing May 1, occupancy was as low as 41 per cent at HM Revenue & Customs.
At the Department for Business it was just 48 per cent, while the Foreign Office and the Home Office had figures of 52 per cent and 54 per cent respectively.
The highest attendance was at the Cabinet Office, where 76 per cent attended in-person.