Information

Working from home policy: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002


Information requested

The number of employees in your organisation and, of these, the number able to perform their work remotely (i.e., not those who are front-line workers) and the number who have started returning to in person work.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, what has your organisation policy to employees working from home vs coming into work in person?

Please explain this in terms of change to previous policy and how this has changed over the course of the pandemic. For example: “Prior to the pandemic, most staff were expected to work in person (except for managers who were able to work from home 2 days a week). When the pandemic started, all staff were sent to work from home, until August when some staff began to return to the office”.

Did your organisation have enough of the basic equipment needed for transitioning to remote working during the pandemic? If not – how long did it take to provide everyone with the basic equipment (laptops) they required and implement remote-working?

Did you provide further equipment at any point e.g. laptop stands, chairs, desks etc? If so what did you provide and was this based on a specified value (if so, how much was spent per remote worker)?

Has your organisation created a policy for reversing the option for working from home and/or creating new hybrid working patterns, or returning fully to ‘pre-pandemic’ practices?

If yes, please provide details of your policy including how many days a week you will be aiming to have employees working in person and by what specific date or date range you are aiming to achieve this.

Has this changed or been delayed considering the government briefing on 29 November regarding the new Omicron Covid variant and updated advice?

Did you consult your employees about their attitudes to returning to in person work? If so, please provide details of their responses (e.g. did you create a survey; if so, how many people responded and what % were in favour or against returning to the office?)

Have you implemented any changes to pay for those working from home and if so, please describe the average change in pay rates and who it applies to.

Were these changes implemented immediately or are you, for example, keeping current staff on the same pay but starting new remote employees on a lower rate?

On what rational have you made changes to pay?

Response

The number of employees in your organisation and, of these, the number able to perform their work remotely (i.e., not those who are front-line workers) and the number who have started returning to in person work.

Number of Employees

Of which are able to work from home

Of which have returned to the office on a regular basis.

8476 as at 30 November 2021

*

*

* While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested as staff may attend an office for certain tasks and work from home the remainder of the time. The vast majority of Scottish Government employees continue to be working at home. For those buildings where there are swipe card systems in place at entry points, namely Atlantic Quay 5, St Andrews House, Saughton House and Victoria Quay, in the week commencing 13 December, average daily recorded accesses via pass swipes were 252. This data includes employees, contractors, tenants, and Sodexo catering staff. This compares to 5242 attendees for the same buildings as at 10 March 2020 to give an approximate pre-Covid comparison.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, what has your organisation policy to employees working from home vs coming into work in person?

Please explain this in terms of change to previous policy and how this has changed over the course of the pandemic. For example: “Prior to the pandemic, most staff were expected to work in person (except for managers who were able to work from home 2 days a week). When the pandemic started, all staff were sent to work from home, until August when some staff began to return to the office”.

Our advice to employees from March 2020 until the end of August 2021 was to work from home with only limited numbers of colleagues attending the workplace where this was business critical. At the end of August 2021 many Scottish Government offices reopened for limited numbers of prioritised groups of staff based on wellbeing and business need. In December 2021, staff were advised to continue to work from home and only go into a Scottish Government building to conduct critical business or for personal reasons (including wellbeing).

Did your organisation have enough of the basic equipment needed for transitioning to remote working during the pandemic? If not – how long did it take to provide everyone with the basic equipment (laptops) they required and implement remote-working?

Staff had laptops issued to them as their standard device prior to lockdown in March 2020. This allowed remote access by default from the start of the pandemic. Staff could take other work equipment from their desk home with them or request that, for example, chairs were delivered to their home address. Any additional kit (monitors, keyboards, mice) was provided as and when they were requested.

Did you provide further equipment at any point e.g. laptop stands, chairs, desks etc? If so what did you provide and was this based on a specified value (if so, how much was spent per remote worker)?

The additional equipment purchased in the period Feb 2020 – September 2021 ordered direct through the Workplace Division or claimed back via expenses is as follows:

Purchased Item

Cost (£)

Chair

279083.84

Desk

15919.33

Lumbar

8870.16

Laptop stand

97309.39

Cables

1582.91

Headphones

3786.92

Keyboard / Mouse

51286.96

Monitor

3995.67

Printer ink

5862.97

Other Equipment

3446.43

TOTAL

£471,144.58

Has your organisation created a policy for reversing the option for working from home and/or creating new hybrid working patterns, or returning fully to ‘pre-pandemic’ practices?

Once offices reopen fully, we will be trialling hybrid working and following an evaluation of the trial, we will consider our policy in this area.

If yes, please provide details of your policy including how many days a week you will be aiming to have employees working in person and by what specific date or date range you are aiming to achieve this.

As part of the trial of hybrid working, we won't specify how many days can be worked at home and how many days must be worked in one of our buildings. Decisions on how, where and when work can be delivered will be taken by those best placed to take them – by the employee and their manager, based on an understanding of business needs and expectations. This should be alongside discussions at team level about how teams can work better together, taking into consideration individual working arrangements.

Has this changed or been delayed considering the government briefing on 29 November regarding the new Omicron Covid variant and updated advice?

We are currently advising all staff who can work from home to work from home.

Did you consult your employees about their attitudes to returning to in person work? If so, please provide details of their responses (e.g. did you create a survey; if so, how many people responded and what % were in favour or against returning to the office?)

We surveyed staff in June 2021. Staff in the core Scottish Government and those who would normally be based in core Scottish Government buildings were invited to take part in this survey. Colleagues in executive agencies, non-ministerial departments and non-departmental public bodies were also welcome to contribute their views, taking local guidance on ways of working into account. 6064 staff members responded although not every respondent answered every question. Staff were asked about their preferred working styles in the future from a list of: exclusively home - working from home all of the time; hybrid -working between home, office(s) and other locations (formal and informal); and exclusively onsite - working in an office, building or site-specific location all of the time. The responses to this question were: 24% would prefer to be exclusively at home, 72% would prefer to work in a hybrid pattern, and 4% would prefer to be exclusively onsite. In addition to core Scottish Government staff, the following organisations had some responses to the survey:

Accountant in Bankruptcy; Revenue Scotland; Education Scotland; Disclosure Scotland; Scottish Forestry; Forestry Land Scotland; Student Awards Agency Scotland; Scottish Public Pensions Agency; Scottish Forestry; Social Security Scotland; Transport Scotland.

Have you implemented any changes to pay for those working from home and if so, please describe the average change in pay rates and who it applies to.

Were these changes implemented immediately or are you, for example, keeping current staff on the same pay but starting new remote employees on a lower rate?

On what rational have you made changes to pay?


There have been no changes to pay for staff working from home.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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