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Civil Service - Post Lockdown - Blended Working?

  • 28-06-2021 3:54pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 112 ✭✭ James2020App


    What is the general consensus of how the Civil Service will resume after these lockdowns eventually lift? I am not talking about short-term as it is likely that even over the next nineish months that the offices will only be occupied at around 50% capacity, due to social distancing requirements etc.


    I do know that recently there has been a government commitment to provide on average 20% home working in the public sector this year.



    The recent 2030 Civil Service Renewal papers are remarks on the current blended working options and how these have lead to a more flexible work practices.



    There seems as of now to be no policy regarding what this post-covid blended policy will look like. It will be really interesting to see how many days work from home it offers, how do we think it will look for most office Civil Servants?


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 839 ✭✭✭ Vologda69


    Our department is offering us three days at home. But all our work can be monitored since its tasked and we are not public facing.


  • Registered Users Posts: 112 ✭✭ James2020App


    Vologda69 wrote: »
    Our department is offering us three days at home. But all our work can be monitored since its tasked and we are not public facing.


    Is that going to be the case post COVID-19 or just for the interim period, until some sort of normality resumes?


    Our department as of yet has not confirmed anything. They appear to be keeping their cards very close to their chest. The new strains etc. are not helping though.



    In a similar situation here, not public facing and can for the most part be done pretty well from home.


  • Registered Users Posts: 839 ✭✭✭ Vologda69


    Is that going to be the case post COVID-19 or just for the interim period, until some sort of normality resumes?


    Our department as of yet has not confirmed anything. They appear to be keeping their cards very close to their chest. The new strains etc. are not helping though.



    In a similar situation here, not public facing and can for the most part be done pretty well from home.

    Post covid. Staff are currently five days wfh. But since im new, im in office training


  • Registered Users Posts: 183 ✭✭ exitstageleft


    Hey Vologda69,
    Did they say how long you're in-office induction training will last? Will it be few weeks or more like a few months?
    I'm due to start shortly and while I understand there is some WFH I'm curious to know how many 5 day weeks I'll need to be in Dublin at the start.


  • Registered Users Posts: 839 ✭✭✭ Vologda69


    Hey Vologda69,
    Did they say how long you're in-office induction training will last? Will it be few weeks or more like a few months?
    I'm due to start shortly and while I understand there is some WFH I'm curious to know how many 5 day weeks I'll need to be in Dublin at the start.

    Average here seems 6-7 weeks in the office first. Im also waiting on a laptop


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  • Registered Users Posts: 654 ✭✭✭ doc22


    Civil Service WFH policy will be determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, I doubt any department is offering a written three days work at home policy. It might be 2/3 days initially after covid but long term it'll be a different story. I can't see one department doing a solo run. Unions/DEPR won't have one department doing one thing and another something else.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,869 ✭✭✭ Augme


    doc22 wrote: »
    Civil Service WFH policy will be determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, I doubt any department is offering a written three days work at home policy. It might be 2/3 days initially after covid but long term it'll be a different story. I can't see one department doing a solo run. Unions/DEPR won't have one department doing one thing and another something else.


    I know of departments that already allowed wfh to some staff pre covid.

    DPER will offer certain criteria and guidelines but I doubt they will go much above that. DPER preference generally seems to be to try and get involved in things as little as possible. Like short working year etc, I expect departments to very much be given the freedom to make their own decisions on this.


  • Registered Users Posts: 112 ✭✭ James2020App


    Augme wrote: »
    I know of departments that already allowed wfh to some staff pre covid.

    DPER will offer certain criteria and guidelines but I doubt they will go much above that. DPER preference generally seems to be to try and get involved in things as little as possible. Like short working year etc, I expect departments to very much be given the freedom to make their own decisions on this.


    That is interesting, just curious was it just a select few who could WFH pre-covid and how many days a week around would you be talking?


  • Registered Users Posts: 654 ✭✭✭ doc22


    [QUOTE=Augme;117549031]I know of departments that already allowed wfh to some staff pre covid.

    DPER will offer certain criteria and guidelines but I doubt they will go much above that. DPER preference generally seems to be to try and get involved in things as little as possible. Like short working year etc, I expect departments to very much be given the freedom to make their own decisions on this.[/QUOTE]

    I think only one department had a formal policy pre covid. Pre Covid were it happened it would be down to unwritten local arrangements

    Could you explain where departments went outside/above DEPR guidelines (whatever they'll be)? In my opinion, WFH will be like flexi, salary and annual leave entitlements departments just can't make up their own rules. I imagine wfh will be a privilege rather than a right much like Flexi within set limits


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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,641 ✭✭✭ BrianD3


    Lads, I can't see how they can justify making the office attendance mandatory ever again with the introduction of the Connect hubs, Rural Ireland Regeneration plan, Make Remote Work campaign, commitment to lower carbon footprint, massive success, and support for 16 months of remote working. Leo himself has said on the record multiple times that people should be allowed to work from home or close to home in a hub post pandemic. I hope Forsa are strong on this! The work life balance of not having a 12 hour day commuting is life changing.
    ICTU and Forsa are on it. Here is ICTU's submission for the public consultation on right to request remote work. Mentions the Work Life Balance Directive which is another thing to add to your list above.

    https://www.ictu.ie/download/pdf/ictu_submission_on_right_to_request_remote_work_may_2021.pdf


  • Registered Users Posts: 28 CivilServantCP


    Well, that's grand, but I'd hope they'll be stubborn on people who don't actually need to be in the office, being required to be there for some vague social reason, anything less than a substantial shift away from commuting won't do me, and I'm sure won't do many others either. It will be a career break for me and I'll be off else where with my year and a half wfh experience on my cv while I wait for the Civil service to catch up, there must be loads thinking the same.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,825 ✭✭✭ $hifty


    doc22 wrote: »
    I can't see one department doing a solo run. Unions/DEPR won't have one department doing one thing and another something else.

    That already happens though, with different Depts and public bodies operating different opening hours, wildly different grades, percentage of people on higher grades, numbers allowed to avail of term time/SWYS etc. Some places don't do the cycle to work scheme, others won't allow new staff to keep their grades/increments when moving from public to civil service or vice versa. There are already plenty of examples of departments doing a solo run on multiple issues.
    doc22 wrote: »
    In my opinion, WFH will be like flexi, salary and annual leave entitlements departments just can't make up their own rules.

    Again, the vast majority already do this in certain areas. How many Departments never got rid of the 1.5 days flexi time? How many did away with it altogether, and how many got rid but brought it back? How come all the APs in Dept of Finance are on the higher scale, very few of them are on the higher scale in Education, and the AP grade doesn't even exist in other PS bodies?

    Departments and PS bodies already have a certain degree of autonomy in how they run their staffing levels and everything else that entails. The nature of the work in each place will determine who and how many staff can work from home.

    I mean, almost everybody in the OGP can work from home as it is nearly all computer-based work. But how many employees in the Parks division of DCC can say the same? A dispute resolution officer in the RTB can hear cases from the comfort of their living room, but try telling someone in DSP that they now have to start paying social welfare payments out their front window, see how well that goes down.

    To answer the OP, nobody knows. It will, 100%, be down to each individual HR department. There will be some sort of over-arching circular issued that covers this, but quite simply, there is no "one-size-fits-all" arrangement that can be made.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,009 ✭✭✭ gazzer


    The department I work in is planning to have us in office two days a week from September until December. Then the plan from January is to have blended working scheme in place. We were surveyed as to what mix we would like. I said I would prefer two days in the office and three days wfh.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27 Alonzo Mosley


    My department has just announced WFH one day a week from September 6th and two days from October 4th. They also will have a scheme in place for 2021.


  • Registered Users Posts: 112 ✭✭ James2020App


    My department has just announced WFH one day a week from September 6th and two days from October 4th. They also will have a scheme in place for 2021.


    Interesting, I would have expected more, was there much interaction or surveys etc. with staff on it, before they announced it?


    Is it fair to say that this is less WFH days than was expected?


  • Registered Users Posts: 26 RosieV


    My department has just announced WFH one day a week from September 6th and two days from October 4th. They also will have a scheme in place for 2021.

    Is this WFH or in the office? My department has announced we'll be expected in one day a week from 6th September, increasing to 2 days from 4th October.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,798 ✭✭✭ Addle


    Won’t a lot of decisions be based on accommodation?
    We’ve been back to the office full time for 2 weeks now.
    We were told that ‘country’ offices are back full time, except for vulnerable staff, and city offices were still wfh.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,641 ✭✭✭ BrianD3


    Anyone think that this could turn into one of the biggest workplace relations issues in the history of the public service. I base this my own experience and what I've been hearing about attitudes to WFH in parts of the PS. The unions need to be all over it which they weren't during the pandemic. Staff who had been working well from home were ordered back to the office for no good reason and in contravention of public health guidelines. If managers were vehemently anti WFH in this situation, what will they be like when the pandemic is over.

    If the government truly wants to "make remote work", very clear instruction need to be issued to every public service body. No flippant dismissing of WFH "for business reasons". Onus needs to be on the employer to demonstrate why WFH not possible.

    Before the pandemic, there was a limited amount of WFH in public service bodies but no actual policies to my knowledge. Allocated on an ad hoc basis, based on the whims of managers, on whether a person was awkward or not etc. Also, WFH of 1/2 or 1 day per week offered to some people to placate them after they had been treated badly for some reason, like bribing a child with sweets.

    I wonder do a lot of PS managers see themselves like teachers of bold children and in general have a school mentality. Lots of lifers (who often came straight from school or college) very resistant to change with little or no experience of private sector employment.


  • Registered Users Posts: 28 CivilServantCP


    BrianD3 wrote: »
    Anyone think that this could turn into one of the biggest workplace relations issues in the history of the public service. I base this my own experience and what I've been hearing about attitudes to WFH in parts of the PS. The unions need to be all over it which they weren't during the pandemic. Staff who had been working well from home were ordered back to the office for no good reason and in contravention of public health guidelines. If managers were vehemently anti WFH in this situation, what will they be like when the pandemic is over.

    If the government truly wants to "make remote work", very clear instruction need to be issued to every public service body. No flippant dismissing of WFH "for business reasons". Onus needs to be on the employer to demonstrate why WFH not possible.

    Before the pandemic, there was a limited amount of WFH in public service bodies but no actual policies to my knowledge. Allocated on an ad hoc basis, based on the whims of managers, on whether a person was awkward or not etc. Also, WFH of 1/2 or 1 day per week offered to some people to placate them after they had been treated badly for some reason, like bribing a child with sweets.

    I wonder do a lot of PS managers see themselves like teachers of bold children and in general have a school mentality. Lots of lifers (who often came straight from school or college) very resistant to change with little or no experience of private sector employment.

    We all have a responsibility to take to social media and talk to our local TDs and Forsa reps, etc. We can’t all sit back waiting to see what happens. People need to be writing replies to Forsa, Dper and the likes on Twitter. We need to lobby for the changes we want and show people that there is an overwhelming want for change. We need to do this and encourage like minded people we work with to do the same.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,692 ✭✭✭ Loueze


    That is interesting, just curious was it just a select few who could WFH pre-covid and how many days a week around would you be talking?

    I'm CS and have been WFH since 2019. Only one person in my section didn't WFH at least one day a week - everyone else did at least one day a week, and at every grade level.

    I began with one day a week as a trial run, then moved to two days (which is 50% of my four day week), just before covid happened.

    I have heard anecdotally that there may be a limit of 50% WFH allowed, but I couldn't point you to a link on it.

    As for different departments, I believe it will end up running along the same lines as flexible working hours - which each department can operate differently. Some are more flexible then others. I think WFH will end up being a privilege, not a right, that you can apply for and granted / denied based on business needs.

    Which means if you have a good supervisor, you're gold. If you've an asshole, you're screwed.

    What is in our favour, is that its in the Programme for Government.


  • Registered Users Posts: 28 CivilServantCP


    Loueze wrote: »
    I'm CS and have been WFH since 2019. Only one person in my section didn't WFH at least one day a week - everyone else did at least one day a week, and at every grade level.

    I began with one day a week as a trial run, then moved to two days (which is 50% of my four day week), just before covid happened.

    I have heard anecdotally that there may be a limit of 50% WFH allowed, but I couldn't point you to a link on it.

    As for different departments, I believe it will end up running along the same lines as flexible working hours - which each department can operate differently. Some are more flexible then others. I think WFH will end up being a privilege, not a right, that you can apply for and granted / denied based on business needs.

    Which means if you have a good supervisor, you're gold. If you've an asshole, you're screwed.

    What is in our favour, is that its in the Programme for Government.

    Well the new policy coming on the right to request remote working will allow appeals to the wrc, will they want 100’s of people bringing their supervisor to wrc?


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,641 ✭✭✭ BrianD3


    Loueze wrote: »
    I have heard anecdotally that there may be a limit of 50% WFH allowed, but I couldn't point you to a link on it.
    I wouldn't be surprised if that was the thinking. I have come across individuals who have a similar attitude to part time work - working 3 days a week is acceptable but working 2 isn't because that's under 50% and "you can't do that, you just can't". Akin to a mental block.

    For those who could, by any objective assessment, WFH most of the time, a blanket max 50% rule simply will not fly IMO.

    If I recall, this issue was mentioned in the right to request remote work consultation document.

    I wonder if the following scenario might play out - an employee who could WFH requests it but it is refused. The employee points out that their duties could be done from home and they have objective evidence that their work was done effectively during the pandemic. The employer responds by changing their duties to duties which are only possible in the office.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,825 ✭✭✭ $hifty


    We all have a responsibility to take to social media and talk to our local TDs and Forsa reps, etc. We can’t all sit back waiting to see what happens. People need to be writing replies to Forsa, Dper and the likes on Twitter. We need to lobby for the changes we want and show people that there is an overwhelming want for change. We need to do this and encourage like minded people we work with to do the same.

    We also all have a responsibility to do the job we're paid to do. Contacting your elected representatives because you want more favourable working conditions smacks of privilege and entitlement. You're the employee, here, you don't get to demand everything is moulded to your satisfaction.

    Not everywhere will be offering WFH to the level everybody wants
    Not everywhere will, crucially, BE ABLE to offer it to the level everybody wants
    Throwing your toys out of the pram because your job won't accommodate your wants is the actions of a toddler. I'd like an extra 20k, a parking space and my own office.....should I contact FORSA and take to twitter?


  • Registered Users Posts: 28 CivilServantCP


    BrianD3 wrote: »

    I wonder if the following scenario might play out - an employee who could WFH requests it but it is refused. The employee points out that their duties could be done from home and they have objective evidence that their work was done effectively during the pandemic. The employer responds by changing their duties to duties which are only possible in the office.

    You’d want be very unlucky, sure the survey results show around 95 in every 100 people in the CS like and want remote working.


  • Registered Users Posts: 187 ✭✭ blue_blue


    I can see CS/PS offering 40% WFH (2 out of 5 days). It'll be a perk like flexitime.


  • Registered Users Posts: 654 ✭✭✭ doc22


    blue_blue wrote: »
    I can see CS/PS offering 40% WFH (2 out of 5 days). It'll be a perk like flexitime.

    or instead of flexitime


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,641 ✭✭✭ BrianD3


    $hifty wrote: »
    We also all have a responsibility to do the job we're paid to do. Contacting your elected representatives because you want more favourable working conditions smacks of privilege and entitlement. You're the employee, here, you don't get to demand everything is moulded to your satisfaction.

    Not everywhere will be offering WFH to the level everybody wants
    Not everywhere will, crucially, BE ABLE to offer it to the level everybody wants
    Throwing your toys out of the pram because your job won't accommodate your wants is the actions of a toddler. I'd like an extra 20k, a parking space and my own office.....should I contact FORSA and take to twitter?
    That's ridiculous. You are seriously comparing WFH to demanding a 20k pay rise from your employer?

    WFH benefits employees, society and in many cases, employers. Nobody is going to expect WFH if they are in a role that clearly isn't suitable e.g. nurse in a hospital. Best of luck to any such nurse who tries to demand WFH.

    The problem is that WFH, where possible, will be refused for spurious reasons including fear of change, middle manager insecurity, desire for control, sadism, wanting to look important, office status

    If you want to talk about car parking spaces, consider the following
    • An organisation has more employees than spaces in its car park. Cars end up parked on verges and there is a scramble to get a space in the morning, cars end up blocked in etc.
    • Somebody proposes that bicycle parking spaces be provided which would make far more efficient use of space and cost very little in infrastructure
    • Many employees would like this and would travel to work by bicycle if there was somewhere to lock their bike
    • Some bigwig refuses this as a) he has his own designated space therefore he's alright and it shows that he is a higher status person b) because anything that is seen to be a concession to employees means they've "gotten away" with something c) because he likes looking out his office window and seeing a full car park which makes him feel important.


  • Registered Users Posts: 28 CivilServantCP


    doc22 wrote: »
    or instead of flexitime

    That won’t happen, it’s going to be a right. The legal framework is on the way and then if it’s not allowed, you can appeal in the WRC. It’s a positive move for society and the environment that government want to safeguard. Not a perk.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,933 ✭✭✭ caviardreams


    I am all for hybrid working but how are managers dealing with things like missed deadlines, people not turning up for teams meetings as they "lost track of time", unanswered emails for weeks at a time in some cases though?

    If you want to discuss something and your email just gets radio silence, what do you do? In the F2F world you can at least pop by the desk and the person has to engage to some extent.


    There is no real performance management structure for these things, and with 100% remote working it makes things even harder to support staff with the above issues.


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