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Civil Service - Post Lockdown - Blended Working?



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,197 ✭✭✭BrianD3

    Re: the first part of your post, this was covered in Question 5 (b) in the consultation document.

    "Is it acceptable that an employer offers an alternative hybrid working pattern with a combination of remote work and onsite work, in response to any request for remote working?(For example, if an employee is requesting 50% remote working and an employer wishes to offer 20% or a lower percentage than the amount requested"

    Obviously the legislation is not in place yet but offering 1 or a half day WFH per week (to someone who could clearly WFH more than that) will be very obvious for being a token, dismissive gesture and should be open to scrutiny. A token gesture in response to a request is certainly not fulfilling that request. It also would not comply with government policy to "make remote work" and to have 20% of public service work done from home (given that large numbers of public servants clearly can't WFH, those who clearly can should be allowed more than a token amount to reach this 20% target)

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    I have to say my department (who I prefer not to name) has been way ahead of the curve in this even long before Covid happened, with WFH being actively encouraged across all grades. I myself had just agreed with my supervisor to increase to 2 days a week WFH (out of 4) before covid hit. I'm not particularly bothered to push for more, but we'll see how things develop. I think there may be a 50% limit.

    Hopefully not all departments will be as bleak as you suggest, it will really be a lost opportunity which makes such a difference to people's lives.

    (eta) they are definitely moving towards shared desks, we've already been notified of this.

  • Registered Users Posts: 279 ✭✭HartsHat

    I must say I don't recognise the CS on this thread. My manager doesn't care when I'm in the office and leaves it up to me to gauge when I need to be in. I take the exact same view with the staff who report to me.

    We're all adults.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    The differences between departments and even locations within departments can be vast.

    My niece was an EO in another department and she resigned in under six months as she found the culture so bad.

    I've had new transfers into my department from others ask what time they could take their lunch at, and were shocked when told there was no need to check, they could choose for themselves what time to have lunch!

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,720 ✭✭✭✭AndrewJRenko

    In fairness, a lot depends on the nature of the work. If you're manning a public desk or a public phone line, then lunch scheduling is important. If you're doing back office policy work, then no-one cares about lunchtimes.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 842 ✭✭✭doc22

    Exactly, those who think they can come and go as they please obviously haven't worked in public offices or large operational departments.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,506 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    Indeed. Even if your not totally public facing, it is still the public SERVICE you're in. Phone etc cover needs to be provided during agreed hours. The Minister's office aren't going to be amused if they call and no one is there. Etc.

    There are a few obscure areas where teamwork isn't needed. But they are pretty far between.

    Lots of departments got thru the last 15 months by vastly reducing service levels. That needs to be reversed.

  • Registered Users Posts: 279 ✭✭HartsHat

    If the Ministers Office calls and you're WFH you can still answer the phone?

  • Registered Users Posts: 262 ✭✭sekond

    But this has always been managed between teams (at least where I have worked) in a way that it could continue with remote working. In the 'old' days, my team were frequently in and out of the office at meetings etc. It'd be rare that everyone was gone at the same time, so phones were monitored and messages were taken. Lunchtimes were staggerred but on an informal basis ("I fancy an early lunch, so I can cover 1.30 onwards, is anyone able to cover the first part"), during holiday period on the rare chance that the main floor was totally empty (e.g. those three days between Christmas and New year), the phone would be forwarded to my phone or one of the other offices - and we would have arranged for there to be cover for those days. And not just at CO/EO level. Depending on the department, work load etc, it was often the PO or APs who covered.

    And we are doing the exact same thing with certain tweaks while working remotely - phones forwarded to mobiles, detailed out of office messages, aligning leave, my team letting me know if they are starting or finishing earlier or later than normal, or taking an unusual lunch time. We've managed some fairly significant policy work and operational programmes from our kitchen tables, sofas and bedrooms. And I can tell you, the Ministers office can ALWAYS get hold of someone when they need to...

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I've worked in large operational departments and small ones, and in public offices on a public facing desk, and I've never, ever had to ask anyone's permission to take my lunch.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 27,720 ✭✭✭✭AndrewJRenko

    But you coordinated with colleagues or manager to make sure the public desk was staffed over lunch, right?

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Nope, we were closed for lunch.

    I'm not talking about coordinating cover, (that's normal) I'm talking about staff actually sitting at their desk and waiting for the nod that they could go for lunch or having to actually ask can they go now.

    This is something my niece experienced a bit off too and was one of the reasons why she quit. She said she felt like she was back in school and being treated like a child.

  • Registered Users Posts: 41 CivilServantCP

    This is why we pay our money to Forsa! But aside from that, the surveys show overwhelming support for WFH so who exactly are the ‘’them‘’ in this them and us argument?

  • Registered Users Posts: 70 ✭✭Madelyn

    The civil service is a big place. Not all offices can allow staff to come and go as they please. There has to be some structure in every workplace IMO. Take call centers for eg.. not all staff can go on break at the same time or who would answer the phones?

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Thanks for letting me know the CS is a big place. I hadn't realised that in my over 30 years of service across multiple departments and multiple offices.

    If you read my posts properly, you will see I was not referring to organising cover for day to day functions.

    Organising cover for core hours and services is not the same as having to ask permission or wait for permission to go on your lunch - which is something I have never had to do, and would never expect anyone else to have to do.

  • Registered Users Posts: 123 ✭✭James2020App

    I see that Eamon Ryan was on RTE this morning stating that he expects work places to return in September and then the importance of returning to offices for mental health. Although he was painting a very different picture a few months ago that work from home was possibly here to stay and 0great for the environment etc.

    It is going to be intriguing to see how much pressure is put on the departments from these politicians and how that will factor into how many days work from home once department's policies become available.

    Seperately see that Google & Facebook are only letting employees into their campus if they have been vaccinated. It will be interesting to see

  • Registered Users Posts: 938 ✭✭✭gauchesnell

    Interesting I have a friend who works in his department and they are all still WFH but possibly blended approach in the autumn but no full return to the office planned. Im public sector myself and we are still full time WFH and no immediate change planned. Some colleagues would like to be back in the office but there hasnt been any loss of productivity - most things are easier done WFH actually.

  • Registered Users Posts: 41 CivilServantCP

    I agree there is a benefit to your mental health being around people some of the time, but there must be a half way house between that and long commutes. Could we hot desk in a local department instead or maybe use a hub instead? The days of everyone going in and out of Dublin every day must be gone?

  • Registered Users Posts: 842 ✭✭✭doc22

    who's going to pay for the hub/local department hot desk. If you aren't based in that department or under that department's line management, it's not going to happen. A Revenue office won't be welcoming DSP staff into it,nor will the DSP/Revenue local management be welcoming anyone bar their own local staff(under their management) into regional locations on a large scale

  • Registered Users Posts: 41 CivilServantCP

    A bit of pragmatism and joined up team work would sort the whole thing. Still report to your line management remotely.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 262 ✭✭sekond

    They make it work in the UK. I remember being at an event in London once talking to someone based in Newcastle or somewhere similar, they had travelled down the day before, worked at another government department office (so not even their own one) in London that day, come to the event in the evening and were going to work at the same office the following day before heading home. The other UK civil servant there said it was very common practice - but then the group I was talking to were all hybrid working in some way (this is long before covid)

  • Registered Users Posts: 377 ✭✭ThumbTaxed

    It should be a privilege, not a right. Many people are not suitable to work from home.

    Also, please can someone explain why parents have dropped their childminding needs when working from home. I have my doubts about the hours being punched in.

  • Registered Users Posts: 161 ✭✭EO2019

    There are plenty of reasons parents childminding will have changed. One example would be older children let’s say aged 7 and up. May be in school from 9.20 to 3. A commute of an hour might necessitate them being minded from 7am to allow parent to arrive to work at 8am leave at 4pm and arrive to pick them up for 5pm. That’s 2 hours cost per morning, school drop and pick up and 1.5 hours (usually rounded to 2) after school. That parent could have all lunches and kids ready prior to 8 let kids sleep in until then, and have a nice relaxing morning (compared to the usual). Let’s say they clock in at 9.45 after dropping their kids to school. Work until 3.10 take lunch to do the school collection. They’ve had 5 hours 25 mins work without having had morning rush and stress. Kids come home and parent has two hours work to do. They haven’t taken any break in the morning as people would in the office preferring to work straight through. The kids have homework and snacks and playing round the house. The two untaken 15 min coffee breaks easily allow for interruptions during the two hours work left. Much easier day no stress, massive costs, happier work life balance, same amount of work done often more as they don’t arrive stressed and tired.

    Compared to some who clock in at 8 then toilet make coffee, chat. Long coffee break mid morning, maybe vape/smoke breaks, lunch, evening coffee breaks, more vape/smoke breaks.

    People who work hard do so regardless. People who don’t the same in or out of the office. Speaking with family who range from HEO to PO a big issue for those employees that do work hard seems to be the inability to switch off when at home. Checking emails or finishing cases at night when the kids are in bed on weekends or when on AL. Work that would usually be left until the next working day when they were in the office.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Public buildings are mostly owned and managed by OPW, not individual departments, so costs can be centralised. Making hotdesking spaces that can be shared by staff from multiple/ other departments is definitely something that is on the table.

    There are already office buildings around the country shared by more than one Department.

  • Registered Users Posts: 56 ✭✭jjnaas

    This was also my experience in the CS. I started with 2 others and the SO and HEO hovered over us worse than teachers in baby infants. We did have to ask permission for the 'big lunch', they would listen in on our phone calls and then whisper to each other about what we said rather than give constructive feedback and even though we had flexi-time if we came in before them in the morning they would get the hump as they didn't trust us even though I would get so much done without someone over the shoulder. It ended up being rather comical tbh, that was the only way to get through it. The SO was eating an apple once and when one of the girls picked up the phone she stopped chewing so she could hear every word! Another day she rolled her chair over beside me and put her face against mine to listen to my phone call. She had a red cheek from my beard when she wheeled off she came that close! I did eventually leave the CS but was transferred to another area of that department and the supervisors there were actually grand with lunch and arrival times but still very poor with offering feedback and communicating adult to adult - still a lot of whispering while looking in your direction rather than letting you know the issue. So, it's luck of the draw but those who don't trust workers and want that very student/child dynamic will hate the idea of work from home because it comes down to them thinking if they're not watching you'll go on the doss like a bold child.

    I work in a fully remote position now and tbh it did take me ages to adjust to being fully trusted. I had also had my confidence knocked and when working remotely at the start I was always thinking every email alert was someone coming along to chastise me.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,606 ✭✭✭✭martingriff

    I with you with that. It took me a long time where I was just looking at my screen waiting on work. Now I am working on what I am given. They know ?I am in "the office" my supervisor gets the one email and they can monitor my stats. If I could go back to the start of this I would let tell myself to calm down do what you given and do not worry. Our Department (Revenue) have already sent out mail in relation to blended work and surveys of what we would want. I am not in an open office and all correspondence can normally be done over secure email. Yes ringing someone maybe a bit quicker but I think the things we look for secure email is probably the way you should go. There would be people who would have to be in our office every day due to somethings and our HEO would love us all back but things will not go back to the same again and I include flexi time in that

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,384 ✭✭✭billyhead

    Those examples of micro management are petty. The managers must have feck all work to do themselves.

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,720 ✭✭✭✭AndrewJRenko

    There are indeed shared buildings, but generally IT infrastructure is not shared. It would take a significant amount of work to enable interoperability of systems and networks across all departments.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,197 ✭✭✭BrianD3

    Mad stuff, the teachers of baby infants comment may not be wide of the mark. Were those individuals "lifers" who joined at age 18, straight out of school with a school mentality. They could have been similar to children who skipped some important developmental and socialisation stages.


    Get a job in the civil service

    Stay there long term

    Become institutionalised and start obsessing about the pension decades before retirement

    Start winding down (not that they ever really wound up) with 10 of the 40 years still to go.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 56 ✭✭jjnaas

    Yes, they were and that was a huge problem when I was there. Perhaps now that more 'fresh blood' is coming in via competition etc things are better but in my department (outside Dublin) myself and another girl who joined with me were the youngest by about 20 years.