The government has spent nearly £590,000 on attempting to find out how civil servants feel about working from home and returning to the office.
Much of the research revealed that civil servants have resoundingly wanted the flexibility afforded to them from working from home, with only 3% of them wanting to return to the office after the pandemic.
The costly research, which was revealed by The Mail on Sunday, was carried out by the Government Property Agency (GPA), an organisation that operates all government buildings and attempts to realise the best ways of working and workplaces for civil servants.
The organisation has reportedly spent almost £600,000 on measuring workplace happiness through a third-party consultancy firm, Leesman.
The GPA said the surveys carried out by Leesman are a way to provide “actionable insight”.
Much of this research started over the pandemic, when civil servants were forced to work from home. The government reportedly paid Leesman £87,000 in 2020 to see how the shift to working from home was impacting civil servants.
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This news arises after it was recently revealed that many UK councils had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to cover the domestic energy costs of their work-from-home staff.
But the Cabinet Office explained that since the pandemic, the research hasn’t focused on working from home: “These surveys... are used to ensure we can maximise the number of people working in the office. Since 2020 any surveys conducted have not included any questions on working from home. Using independent assessments, we can ensure that money spent on office space delivers true value to taxpayers.”
Despite these surveys being expensive, conducting research into the needs and desires of your workforce are an important aspect of improving your company’s employee engagement, which can lead to better productivity, motivation and all-round business success – and it doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot.
Kate Winstanley, group HR director at Morson Group, explains the importance of investing in employee engagement. She says: "Employee engagement surveys offer numerous advantages for organisations seeking to enhance their workplace culture. They also provide valuable insights into employee satisfaction, enabling companies to identify strengths and areas for improvement.
"This feedback fosters a sense of transparency and trust, as employees feel heard and valued, influencing productivity and employee retention. By addressing concerns and aligning organisational goals with employee expectations, companies can boost morale and create a more positive work culture. Ultimately, these surveys serve as a powerful tool for continuous improvement, driving overall organisational success which enables businesses to capitalise on the strategic competitive advantage provided by their people."