Work is underway on a successor to the 2014 Civil Service Renewal Plan. This strategy will outline an ambitious programme of reform for the Irish Civil Service over a 10 year period. There is no doubt that the changes in how we work and where we work that have come about as a result of the pandemic will inform the next Renewal Plan.
The public health requirements brought about by the pandemic have led to the transformation of work arrangements across all sectors and businesses. It has highlighted the potential for the Civil Service to work from locations beyond the 'traditional office'. Like many other organisations the Civil Service has shown that much of the work previously done in offices can be done remotely.
Our experience over the last six months has shown that we must now consider new and alternative work practices that can achieve positive outcomes for our Civil Service. Different working models are possible, and one that has been mentioned by the deputy is the concept of regional Government office “hubs”.
Similar to many Government buildings in provincial towns, establishing well located departmental office hubs is certainly one option for consideration. Hub spaces facilitate remote working for those where home based work is not a real alternative beyond COVID. They also have the potential to address staff commuting issues and the cost issues associated with a concentration in Dublin and the Central Business District.
Any decision to set up regional hubs requires: careful analysis of the most suitable locations; must meet the operational needs of Government departments; and must be consistent with the National Planning Framework. As part the analysis on regional hubs over 18500 Civil Servants nationwide to-date have shared their views on this issue through the Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey.