30% of workers in Wales could might never return to the office

Working from home

Around 30% of workers in Wales could regularly work from home even after the coronavirus pandemic, the Welsh government has said.

During the worst of the crisis, people from across the UK were told to work at home if possible, a move that resulted in less road congestion and pollution as well as limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

Ministers in Wales have said working remotely can also improve the work-life balance and potentially drive regeneration and economic activity in communities.

The plan is for staff to work in the office, at home, or in remote working hubs within easy distance of their homes.

It comes after the UK government instructed workers to return to the office last month, concerned about the economic effect of commuters being absent from city centres.

Lee Waters, deputy minister for economy and transport, said: “The UK government instruction for everyone to go back to the office is not one we are repeating in Wales.

“We believe many people will want to continue to work remotely in the longer term and this could be a step-change in the way we work in Wales.

“We have an opportunity to make Wales a country where working more flexibly is integral to how our economy functions, embedding a workplace culture that values and supports remote working.

“We aim to see around 30% of the Welsh workforce working remotely on a regular basis.”

Helen Mary Jones, shadow economy secretary for Plaid Cymru, said home working can benefit organisations and employees but the right tools were needed, such as further investment in broadband and other communications.

“It also has to be a choice,” the member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales said.

“Working from home is simply not an option for many – be that because of cramped housing or a range of other reasons.

“Equally for many the office can be a refuge from problems at home or a place to develop new friendships.

“This pandemic will undoubtedly change the way we work. The Labour government need to make sure our economy and infrastructure is ready for that.”