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Civil Service - Post Lockdown - Blended Working?



  • Different depts are saying different things, separate to DPER somewhat surprising many CS HRs with their "three days a week" release a while back

    Answer is its too soon to tell.

  • This is the latest I've heard.

    100% full time remote working for civil and public servants was never on the table as an option. So anyone still holding out for that is going to be disappointed.

    Hybrid working was always the plan, and everyone who can will be expected to work at least some of the time at home - but local arrangements will be allowed for those who cannot WFH or who wish to opt out.

    Every department has (or is supposed to have) a working group set up on this, and also worker representatives appointed that feed back to DPER.

    As far as I know, negotiations are ongoing (including Unions) but the curve balls thrown by delta, and now omicron, have set everything back.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,346 ✭✭✭ billyhead

    So is the provisional view it will be 3 days WFH?

  • Registered Users Posts: 245 ✭✭ BhoyRayzor

    A general framework is needed, I think it will be down to each PO to determine the roles in their branch that can be done from home, either wholly or partly, long term. Most other arrangements need to be signed off by them anyway. I don't know what the argument/excuse is going to be used given the 2 year sample proving that a role can done done remotely but I guess they can use the long term unknown aspects.

    For those with a decent commute, 2 days in the office would be the max I think most would accept, a happy medium of sorts. There's going to be a lot of people sitting in the office thinking 'why am I here when I could be doing this at home'.

    As an aside, it's a great opportunity for a modern form of decentralisation, instead of relocating a role to a location it can be relocated to the internet.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,956 ✭✭✭ Sarn

    As highlighted by Hadassah Attractive Harp, the option to work in the office full time will be there. At least that has been confirmed in our office. Otherwise they run the risk of health and safety issues where an employee highlights concerns that are not addressed.

  • Yes, that is what we've been told as well.

    And from what I can gather, there will not be any hard and fast rule that everyone must do "X" set amount of days in the office, each and every week.

    The organisation is too vast for there to be a rigid "one size fits all" policy on WFH as what may work for staff in D/Health, for example, may not work for staff working in D/SP.

    There will be guidelines and recommendations - a Framework - which will eventually come down to local senior management to implement across their own department as best they see it fitting their Department's business needs.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,211 ✭✭✭ SouthWesterly

    That was just my observation from conversations i had with people.

    Things changed as restrictions eased

  • Registered Users Posts: 245 ✭✭ BhoyRayzor

    I'm not saying a general rule is what should happen. 2 days in the office is the max that would be acceptable for those of us with a commute IMO, given there appears to be little chance in general of fully WFH roles, despite the evidence they can be done from home.

    I think it will be down to the PO who knows best the roles and the people that are doing them. If their staff want to be in the office full time, at home full time or blended then it makes sense for them to accommodate them where possible. Demonstrate flexibility and they will get it back IMO. If a PO can decide where their staff carry out their job and has a mix of staff who want any of the three options then a one size fits all does not make sense, even if it is encouraged in the guidelines coming.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,613 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko

    That's the problem though, if the guidelines don't highlight the fact that not everyone wants to WFH, organisations and POs will build their practices around the assumption that everyone wants to be at home but will be dragged in where necessary (or to fill a quota). This really doesn't work for people on either side.

  • I envison that number of days WFH / WFO will become part of each person's role profile / PMDS, because it allows for performance reviews at mid and end of year on how it is working out for both employee and supervisor.

    Adding a disclaimer - that is wildly speculative on my part, and I haven't heard anything at all about WFH/WFO becoming part of PMDS.

    But I've been thinking about it, and it seems to me to be the most logical time and place for that discussion to happen.

    (And as always, if agreement can't be reached, it goes up the line to the second supervisor).

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,379 ✭✭✭✭ yabadabado

    2 days is the max that would be acceptable to you to attend the office ?

    If management took the decision in a few weeks or months time that it was all back to 5 day office attendance what would you do?

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,346 ✭✭✭ billyhead

    As alluded to already I don't see the point of sitting at an office desk if the job can be done from home. Unless you work in front line public service ie. DSP or Revenue or theirs a particular business need to be in the office WFH should be offered full time to staff who want it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,854 ✭✭✭ salonfire

    Surely if this is to be implemted, there also has to be an easier way agreed with unions of getting rid of useless staff in return. I really hope the Government don't miss this opportunity to approve WFH demands without getting something tangible in return.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,301 ✭✭✭✭ Beechwoodspark

    Spoofer Veradka has gone awol over this issue.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,956 ✭✭✭ Sarn

    The reality is that 100% WFH will not be offered. Realistically it will be 3 days in the office and 2 at home, unfortunately. That is what has been proposed for us, despite various objections.

    No doubt there will be some flexibility in how it works out over a monthly period, but in order to be equitable, I don’t see sections performing similar functions getting away with 1 or 2 days only in the office (unless it’s something that they already had).

    Then there’s the issue of those who can’t work from home. Will there be complaints and cries for compensation because they don’t get a WFH perk? That will likely lead into new rules around flexileave. I won’t be surprised to see us penalised in some way for WFH, similar to how flexileave is currently suspended unless you work in the office.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 932 ✭✭✭ AyeGer

    Some public service and civil service mid level managers hate their staff working from home and will resist it, I think blended work is the future for many jobs though if they can be carried out to the required standards.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,156 ✭✭✭ caviardreams

    Everyone is talking about management needing to manage based on outcomes and timelines. Managers desperately want this imo, but aren't allowed by the employees and culture in a lot of cases.

    The number of conversations I have about late timelines (which were agreed with the iniividual or even suggested by the individual, not me as the manager) with no explanation or communication or apology etc. and then I get the response that I am putting people under "pressure" and they go to the union and HR.

    Employees need to realise if they are WFH they need to be accountable and deliver on timelines, and managers need to be able to enforce that and have serious conversations/warnings if they don't. Right now, managers simply can't have those conversations as they will get accused of bullying and there is literally no consequence for employees of missed deadlines and not answering emails from the manager whatsoever - no demotion, no risk of dismissal, and no bonus foregone, so they simply don't care, except for the minority who are driven high performers. What can the manager do if they don't do the work on time? Nothing so there's no incentive to do the work if you are not career-driven and looking for a promotion. That's the power that staff have and it will be impossible in the long term.

    WFH works great if you can fully enforce accountability in a meaningful way - but this isn't possible in a lot of cases in the public service.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,854 ✭✭✭ salonfire

    Exactly. There is always a minority who take the piss in the office. Allowing WFH needs to go hand-in-hand with stricter and enforced disciplinary actions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 28 AP2021

    We have a lot of managers who are unwilling to manage. That's to some extent what you're describing. If one is actually followed their responsibilities as a manager, and set out and agreed realistic outputs with proper timescales, then the next step is clear when those goals aren't being met. There is a very clear policy on dealing with underperformance through the PIP process, but the fact is that mangers don't tend to go down that route as generally they don't feel confident in doing so as they have failed in some area of their own responsibility and they know that a union or legal rep will catch them on it (e.g. goals are unclear, staff have not been treated in a consistent manner, underperformance has been tolerated for an extended period, feedback and training have been lacking).

    If as a manger you've set goals realistically and with agreement, provided feedback, addressed performance issues promptly, and treated people consistently, then there are clear underperformance tools open to you. Threats of bullying and whatnot won't go anywhere.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,346 ✭✭✭ billyhead

    There is a big problem with poor management in the CS whereby underperforming employees are allowed to fester. Some managers don't want to look weak if a PIP is implemented. It reflects badly on them that they couldn't nip problems in the bud before it got to that stage. Also the last thing a manager wants is a case of bullying on their hands when they have ambitions for promotion. It truly is disfunctional in some areas of the CS when underperformance is not confronted and acted on in comparison to the private sector where the employee would be shown the door. The unions have a lot of power unfortunately in protecting the employee.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,613 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko

    In return for providing free office space to the employer? You haven't done much negotiation with unions, have you?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,854 ✭✭✭ salonfire

    Are you saying it is the Government that are demanding their employees work from home on a permanent basis? In order to free up Government office space? Do you have a link for any of this? Were the Government requesting this free work space prior to covid?

    Or is it in fact the employees who are requesting they provide their employer with free work space once it was experienced due to covid how beneficial it is?

    From what I can see in this thread, quite a lot of people are insisting they provide free work spaces within their homes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,613 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko

    That's exactly what's happening to me and others today - Government demanding that employees work from home, with no consideration of the feasibility of same.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,156 ✭✭✭ caviardreams

    Well, they are often unwilling to manage because it is not worth the heat to them from bullying complaints (trust me I have seen it - attack is the best form of defence for any employee who feels their performance is coming under scrutiny). HR often won't let you put people on a PIP as they are talking a risk of a legal case by the employee for unfair treatment and that's their number one objective - avoid legal issues.

    Once you start asking questions on documented timelines you get "you're pressuring me, you are singling me out" etc and you start getting manipulated and undermined which is very difficult to deal with. Honestly, managing in the PS is not done by a lot of managers because with the culture it's impossible to enforce things with disengaged and non performing employees - the manager will be the one taking all teh risks while the employee continues to get their way.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,854 ✭✭✭ salonfire

    On a permanent basis? Or is it just for the duration of the pandemic?

    Surely a chap like you, conscious of health and safety and all, would be glad not to have to mingle with others while a deadly virus is in the air.