BBC staff will work from home permanently in corporation 'hybrid'

The British Broadcasting (from home) Corporation: BBC staff will work from home permanently with taxpayer-funded offices sitting half-empty as corporation moves towards a ‘hybrid model’

  • BBC pursing a hybrid strategy mixing office attendance with working from home
  • The broadcaster is bringing more employees back but keeping some measures
  • Strategy is trying to balance ‘health and safety’ considerations with output
  • Move comes as many in the civil service are trying to avoid office return 

Staff in the BBC’s licence fee funded offices will always be working from home for at least part of the week – as the corporation pursues a new hybrid rota.

The broadcaster, which gets £3.52billion from the public through the viewing charge, is bringing more people back in after over a year of the pandemic.

But it has concluded the health and safety of staff has to be balanced against the advantages of having more workers in its offices.

It means many of those who have been working from home will continue to do so, only coming in a few days a week.

There is also the consideration that ‘on-screen talent’ will be put at less risk from being laid low from Covid if social distancing and other protocols can still be observed.

An insider told MailOnline: ‘Like a lot of big organistations, the BBC is moving towards a hybrid of working from home and being in the office.

BBC head office and square off Oxford Street where the broadcaster is based currently

BBC studios and offices at MediaCityUK in Salford Quay has not been at full capacity

Tim Davie, Director General of the BBC, has said the broadcaster must represent the public

‘Management want to prioritise staff health and safety, alongside protecting the channel’s output.

‘There are going to be additional people returning to BBC sites.’ 

The broadcaster is understood to be taking a similar approach to other channels in the UK.

And it is vast improvement of much of the civil service, with many workers staying at home.

News of the channel’s hybrid system comes just days after it carried it a survey of 50 of the UK’s biggest employers.

It reported that almost all of them said they had no plans to bring people back to the office full-time.

And the move to hybrid working is almost a year after the broadcaster was criticised for staying at home.

Pubs, restaurants and shops surrounding the BBC’s London and Manchester headquarters reported in August last year a hit to their profits.

The streets of Whitehall were empty as very few people were back in their offices this week

Civil servants have been reluctant to get back to their offices and some prefer home working

The long delays faced by frustrated Britons as civil servants continue to work from home 

Members of the public trying to return to a version of normality after the Covid pandemic face weeks waiting for crucial documents as civil servants continue working from home. 

The passport office has warned renewing papers could take as long as ten weeks if the three million people who failed to apply last year submit orders.

But the problem is the same across the spectrum of services all providing key documentation.

It includes delays of up to six months on a tax rebate, up to ten weeks for a paper driving licence application.

And the situation for ordering copies of birth, marriage or death certificates appears even more dire with the government’s General Register Office for England and Wales unable to give dates on when they will be sent out.

It comes as civil servants have been told there is no pressure to come back into the office – despite the Government telling everyone else they should begin returning. 

A plan has also been suggested for the majority of Whitehall staff that they may only ever have to come in a maximum of two days a week.

If that proves true questions are bound to be asked over whether some services will ever be able to return to pre-pandemic efficiency again.

 

Some estimated just 20 per cent of the corporation’s workforce had gone back despite Boris Johnson at the time urging people back.

Today Downing Street refused to condemn civil servants who are resisting a return to Whitehall.

It came amid calls for them to face a pay cut if they want to continue to work from home.

No10 insisted that the Civil Service was following its plan for a gradual return to work post lockdown amid concern at the economic impact of a fall in commuting in major towns and cities.   

Unnamed senior ministers last night suggested those who refuse to return to the office should be paid less than those back at their desks, or passed over for promotion.

It came as the Department of Health and Social Care reportedly abandoned plans for its civil servants to be back at their desks between four and eight days a month from September. 

Asked if it was right to take such punitive action, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman today told reporters: ‘No. We have no plans for that approach.’

He added that the PM had made clear ‘the benefits of office working’ but it was up to individual departments to set their own targets, adding: ‘Flexible working is rightly here to stay’. 

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng also took a much more conciliatory tone today, warning against Government ‘diktats’ and quotas and saying deals should be hammered out between firms and their workers. 

He said he would ‘never’ advocate docking pay and regarding his own department’s staff he said that while he would be ‘encouraging them to come in … of course there will be a degree of flexibility.’

His comments came as unions lashed out at blunt attempts to coerce civil servants back to Whitehall, amid fears for city centre economies stripped of commuter cash.

The Government has recommended employees make a ‘gradual return’ to offices over the summer after many have spent well over a year working from home because of the pandemic.

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