We need to ask 'what are offices for' ?

By Claire Kober | 17 August 2021

Are ministers set to order civil servants back to Whitehall offices? The story, said to have been anonymously briefed to journalists several times in recent weeks, has been met with a furious reaction from trades’ unions prompting Downing Street denials that staff who refuse could be penalised by a reduction in salary.

Ministers are said to be concerned that despite the easing of COVID restrictions, few staff are coming into the office, raising questions over accountability and the delivery of ministerial priorities. There’s also a parallel but quite different argument that mass home working is destroying our urban centres. While the argument is muddled, at root seems to be an implication that working from home is little more than an excuse to watch the latest TV box set.

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