A future of hybrid working: adapting to a long-term shift out of the office

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May 18, 2021

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Some 97% of UK civil servants want to keep the option to work from home after the pandemic, according to a recent survey by senior officials’ union the FDA. Of these respondents, the research found, 70% would like to spend a minimum of three days a week at home.

‘Hybrid’ working has benefits for employers as well as staff – cutting property costs, for example, and broadening the talent pool by permitting the recruitment of people based well away from offices. It can also support diversity and inclusion, allowing people to fit jobs around their disabilities, lifestyles or caring responsibilities.

But transitioning from emergency response to a sustainable future of flexible, dispersed working will bring its challenges. How can leaders ensure that officials working remotely remain as engaged and valued as those who come into the office daily? Organisations need ways to support seamless collaboration and communication outside the office environment. And there are implications for the tools, technologies and workspaces provided for staff: employers will need new teamworking and HR practices, digital systems and workspaces, for example.

This event explored how governments can adapt to the future of hybrid working. Civil service leaders and industry experts discussed themes including the management of more dispersed workforces; the work needed to address cultural and technical challenges; and the new policies, workspaces and tools required by employers.


Webinar chair: Siobhan Benita, former UK senior civil servant

Siobhan Benita was a senior civil servant with over 15 years’ Whitehall experience. She worked in many of the major delivery departments, including Transport, Environment, Health and Local Government. She also had senior roles at the heart of Government in the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, including supporting the then Cabinet Secretary, Lord O’Donnell to lead work on Civil Service reform and strategy. Siobhan left the Civil Service to run as an independent candidate in the Mayor of London election. She subsequently joined her alma mater, Warwick University as Chief Strategy Officer of Warwick in London and Co-Director of the Warwick Policy Lab.

Dr Stian Nordengen Christensen, Deputy Director, Section for Organisational Development, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway

Dr. Stian Nordengen Christensen (b. 1980) is a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, with responsibility for organisational development of the foreign service. He holds a PhD in history and philosophy and a master’s degree in law. Dr. Christensen has been a career diplomat in the Norwegian foreign service since 2005, with postings in Sudan, Ethiopia and Palestine. He has published several works on the subject of international cooperation, most recently the book Possibilities and Impossibilities in a Contradictory Global Order in 2018.

Dominic Brankin, Director, Workplace Services, Government Property Agency, United Kingdom

Dom joined the GPA in January 2019 from the Department of Health and Social Care where he led the Workplace and Transformation agenda. A Civil Servant for over 30 years, prior to his role with the DHSC Dom worked in operations, corporate services and project delivery at the Department for Work and Pensions: leading customer services delivery in Jobcentre Plus regions; covering financial strategy, HR and marketing; and delivering welfare reform through major transformation programmes. As Workplace Services Director, Dom is responsible for supporting customers in moving to and using GPA workplaces in a way that is popular with customers and enhances client satisfaction. His team has also led the Agency’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anthony Gatt, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development, Malta

Mr Anthony Gatt was appointed Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy in May 2016. In June 2017 he was appointed Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Energy and Water Management. In November 2020 this Ministry was redesignated as Ministry for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development. He is 34 years old and graduated with Masters in Business Administration from the University of Malta.

Mr Gatt has had a long career within the Public Service. He has worked in various Ministries and Departments, including the Ministry for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications and the Department of Contracts. In 2015 he was appointed Director for Corporate Services within the Ministry for European Affairs and Implementation of the Electoral Manifesto, led by the Deputy Prime Minister. Over the years as a public officer, Mr Gatt has represented Malta at various meetings organised by the European Union.

Rupert Steptoe, UK&I Workforce Advisory Leader, EY

Rupert joined EY in 2010 and leads the Government and Infrastructure People Consulting business across the UK and Ireland. He has spent the last ten years delivering complex change and transformation programmes to public sector clients in the UK and the Middle East, including the Home Office, Cabinet Office, HMRC and MoD. Rupert has also worked extensively with Network Rail and Highways England. Before joining EY, Rupert spent 17 years in the British Army.