The Welsh Government has published a strategy to support new ways of working, which have emerged since the pandemic, to ‘lock in’ the positive changes.
The way people work has significantly changed since the pandemic and in response the Welsh Government has this week published a strategy to help employers adopt a more flexible and agile approach within workplaces.
It plans to work with businesses, trade unions and key stakeholders so that where possible, employees can make a choice on the way they work, whether that’s locally from a shared workspace, from home, or a mixture of both.
It says plans include exploring and developing an online platform that will help people find workspaces local to them, alongside best practice guidance that can be shared with businesses to help them make the move.
Outlining the vision to achieve a target of 30% of the workforce working from home, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters recognised that some jobs do not need to be done from a specific place, but that flexible working for the employee can lead to greater productivity, improved work-life balance as well as benefits for the environment and local economy.
A remote working policy introduced in September 2020, enabled a workplace model where staff can choose to work in the office, at home or in a hub location.
Mr Waters gave an example of one current hub user who previously worked five days per week in Cardiff. Now they work in a local co-working space in Swansea part of the week. Over the space of a year, they have reclaimed an estimated 20 days of time back when they would have been commuting.
Reaping the benefits
The Welsh Government says that organisations such as Wrexham-based communications company Moneypenny, Caerphilly-based Disability Wales and Blaenau Gwent Council have already adopted a remote working approach with both employees and employers reaping the benefits.
Mr Waters said: “One of the lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic is that many people don’t want to or need to be in a traditional workplace environment to carry out their work.
“Working remotely brings with it a multitude of benefits. As well as helping people escape the commute and develop a better work-life balance, working locally also plays a vital role in regenerating our town centres by bringing people into the heart of the community to work and shop, as well as reducing congestion and cutting carbon emissions.
“But we can’t deliver our ambition alone, everyone has a part to play and we will continue to spread the message to lock in the positive changes we’ve already made and address the negatives to support more businesses to make the move to flexible working.”
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “The remote working strategy we’re launching today sets out how we’ll work to encourage more flexibility and choice for workers, and greater agility for businesses and organisations across all economic sectors.
“As set out in our Economic Mission, the benefits of remote working for businesses and organisations able to adapt are clear – increased productivity and reduced sickness absence, more job opportunities for people based in rural and semi-rural communities, and access to a wider and more diverse workforce.
“Furthermore, our upcoming Strategic Vision for Retail will outline how the retail sector can take advantage of people having more opportunities to work closer to home.
“We will not mandate targets for employers or individuals – instead, we’re aiming to support employers and work with trade unions to showcase what best practice looks like.
“We believe these new ways of working should be introduced and be maintained in line with the fair work and social partnership principles this Welsh Government is fully committed to.”
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