Quote: "ministers should ‘focus on whether public services are being delivered, rather than where civil servants are sitting on a particular day’." My experience of dealing with various elements of the public sector thoughout the pandemic has demonstrated that services are not being delivered. Based on real-world interactions, and not surveys or internal feedback, remote working has clearly resulted in a reduction in public sector productivity. This is also true of other large, traditional, organisations such as banks, insrance companies, etc.
Additionally, certainly in the private sector, there aren't many companies that have been able to reduce their office costs. Doing so may well be under consideration but rent reviews and lease break clauses arrive on a fixed term basis, not just because staff are not in attendance.
Hybrid working may well be here to stay in one form or another but the policies that enable it, as well as the staff making use of it, need to be managed and reviewed in a much more active way than used to be required by traditional in-office working. The challenge for such businesses, and by extension HR, will be to assist leaders to manage their teams effectively while coping with wildly differing working patterns and locations.