WARRINGTON Borough Council is expecting a significant part of its workforce to continue working from home in the future despite the opening of the new offices.

The Time Square offices – which are a key part of the council’s £142.5 million town centre regeneration scheme – opened for staff on September 14.

But the number of people currently working in the building is low, in line with Covid-19 secure arrangements, and it is not yet open to the public.

The site will have a ratio of around seven desks to every 10 employees.

However, even prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the council anticipated a proportion of staff would work from home frequently, with others employed on a part-time basis.

Warrington Guardian:

The new council offices

During Tuesday’s virtual scrutiny committee meeting, chairman Cllr Graham Friend asked: “Do the officers see themselves working from home more in the future?”

In response, Lynton Green, the council’s deputy chief executive and director of corporate services, said the matter has been discussed in detail but highlighted the importance of ensuring staff have the opportunity to return to an office environment.

He said: “I think it would be wrong of us to think that working from home all of the time for everybody is good.

“There are some people that have struggled working at home, particularly those that have had child care arrangements that are wrapped around that, others that have been trying to work in a small corner of a room that wasn’t necessarily particularly set out for them to be able to work from home.

“And then there are others of us that actually it hasn’t made that much difference, it actually maybe enabled us to do more by working from home, to spend a lot less time travelling, a lot less maybe cars on the road which has got to be good for the environment.

“But I think the important thing for me is that enabling those that do need to work in an office environment that they can come in and making sure that, as we’ve now opened up the new offices at Time Square, that they are properly risk assessed and Covid-safe for our staff to be able to come in there.”

Gareth Hopkins, deputy director of corporate services, said he thinks ‘we are going to be in a place where most people will do much of their work from home’ with some exceptions.

He added the council has got quite a ‘nice balance’ with staff feeling ‘really well supported’, but stated some things can only be carried out face to face.