Coronavirus means council staff told they will be working from home into 2021
- Credit: Neil Perry/Supplied
The bulk of staff at Norfolk County Council have been told that they will not be returning to their offices for work this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Council bosses said the 7,000-plus non-school staff employed by the authority, the majority of whom have been working from home since lockdown at the end of March, will continue to do so.
In the past week, only about 900 staff have worked from a council building, such as the authority’s County Hall headquarters in Norwich, at some point in those seven days.
Council meetings have also been conducted virtually, with the first full council meeting of all councillors since lockdown due to take place on Monday.
And Tom McCabe, head of paid service at Norfolk County Council, said lockdown had shown that council services can be delivered by staff working from their homes, with about 85pc of workers doing so.
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He said: “Our staff have been working from home where possible throughout the pandemic, in line with government guidance.
“This has been made possible by our adoption of remote working technologies that underwent successful testing before the lockdown, allowing our staff to deliver the services Norfolk needs away from council offices.
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“We will continue work in this way for the rest of this year and into 2021, as the coronavirus remains in circulation.”
“We have put a number of measures in place to ensure our staff can work from home effectively.
“First and foremost we want to look after everyone’s wellbeing and we have measures in to help our staff feel fully supported.
“We have also reviewed our flexible working to allow staff with children or dependants to arrange their working day accordingly and supplied home working equipment to allow our staff to work from home.”
The official government advice is still “work from home if you can”, but prime minister Boris Johnson has said people should be talking to their bosses about “looking to come back to work in a safe way”.
But Sir Patrick Vallance, his top scientific adviser, showed some resistance to the change on Thursday.
He said working from home remained a “perfectly good option” and there was “absolutely no reason” to change the advice.