HEREFORDSHIRE Council workers will be given the opportunity to work from home until December 2021.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March this year, most council staff have been working remotely.

Speaking at the employment panel meeting on August 12, assistant director for people Tracey Sampson said it has worked very well for the council and they have been able to deliver services effectively and efficiently.

“We’ve saved on travel costs and travel time and some of our data shows we can perform as well or better in some cases when working from home than being based in the office,” she said.

The council ran a staff survey in June this year to find out how well they had been coping with the changes.

“The findings were largely positive and showed a huge shift in people’s working preferences to working from home,” she added.

“This survey has given us the confidence that an offer to work from home on a permanent basis will be welcomed by staff.

“It would give people some certainty about their working arrangements at a time of great uncertainty.

“However, we are in the midst of a pandemic and making long term decisions at a time of crisis is unwise and that’s why the recommendation is that any offer to staff should be on a temporary basis until December 2021.

“This would give staff and the council time to evaluate working from home during business as usual rather than during a crisis.”

She said however, that working from home did not suit everybody and some felt isolated.

“In the staff survey we heard that some people do not enjoy it, they do not have the space to work from home or they responsibilities at home that make concentrating while working at home impossible or very difficult.

“For those reasons the offer would be voluntary. Nobody would be forced to accept the offer; it would be a free choice.”

The council’s employment panel approved the recommendations.