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Wednesday 03 April 2024

Back to office rule will damage productivity, MiP members say

By MiP

 man in street staring up at office buildings

NHS England’s new hybrid working policy requiring staff to spend at least 40% of their time in the office is more likely to damage productivity than improve it, according to a survey of MiP members working at the national body.

More than 600 managers—well over half MiP’s membership at NHSE—took part in the survey, with less than one in five supporting the new policy. 73% of members said it would reduce their productivity at work, while only 6% said it would have a positive effect.

NHS England announced in January that all staff with office-based contracts must attend the office for at least 40% of their working week from April 2024. In a message to staff, NHS England’s executive group said: “Working together in person better helps us to solve common issues and have have a social conversation which can support our wellbeing, particularly among younger staff and new starters.” Office-based working would also help to “create the best possible inclusive culture, experience and environment”, NHSE claimed.

MiP was critical of the new policy, which it said was announced with no evidence or business case. The decision seemed to be based more on “politics rather than how it impacts staff and their ability to deliver value for the public”, said the union’s chief executive, Jon Restell.

NHS England has downsized its estate significantly since 2020, posing logistical challenges to the new policy. Half of those taking part in MiP’s survey said their office could not handle the increased use due to a lack of space, desks and dedicated areas for online meetings. Survey participants also cast doubt on NHS England’s claim that office working “helps us to solve common issues”: around three-quarters reported that their immediate teams were based at different locations to their own.

Some staff also raised concerns about how the hybrid working policy would affect staff involved in NHS England’s ongoing organisational change programme, as some some staff are now unable to seek suitable alternative employment at bases far from where they live. MiP national officers have raised these concerns and others brought to light by the survey with NHS England’s management team.

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