Office staff at Cardiff council will likely continue to work mostly from home after the coronavirus pandemic ends.
Reducing the cost of running buildings, cutting congestion from commuting, and a better work-life balance were some of the reasons listed for the permanent switch in a new cabinet report.
In the summer, council bosses will consult staff and trade unions on the long-term changes.
Working from home also has drawbacks, the report said, like loneliness, making teamwork harder, and the potential ‘blurring lines’ between work and home lives.
Office workers across the country began working from home in March last year to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Workplace rules on social distancing are likely to remain in place until at least autumn later this year. But after the rules are dropped, many will stay at home.
The council’s cabinet will consider a report detailing the proposed changes on Thursday, May 20.
The report said: “When physical distancing will no longer be required, the council does not intend to revert back to the pre-pandemic office footprint and traditional staff office working patterns.
“Instead, a new hybrid model will seek to maintain the benefits of increased home and flexible working arrangements experienced over the past year, while mitigating the risks.”
The council will split its workforce into categories: some council workers will have the option to work in the office a few days each week; employees like front line workers will keep their desks in offices; while other staff will work from home the whole time.
Any workers who find working from home challenging, perhaps due to health needs, “will be prioritised” for office space, according to the cabinet report.
With more staff working from home, the council has already decided to stop renting its offices at Wilcox House, on Dunleavy Drive,fgvb near the International Sports Village. Now council bosses will review the need for the rest of its offices and depots.
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The cabinet report said: “As a result of adopting hybrid working, the nature and scale of the council’s accommodation footprint will need to be reviewed, and where appropriate rationalised, adapted or modernised.
“The council will therefore need to undertake a fundamental review of its office and depot accommodation requirement, with detailed business cases for both presented back to cabinet for consideration.”
The main office building used by the council is County Hall, at Cardiff Bay. In recent years, the council has considered demolishing the building and relocating its headquarters, perhaps to Callaghan Square. However, the cabinet report does not mention any specific plans yet.
Conservative councillors have previously called for some of the excess office space at County Hall and City Hall to be rented out for startup businesses. The idea could generate extra rental income for the council, while supporting new businesses getting off the ground.