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Edinburgh Live
Edinburgh Live
Marie Sharp

Hundreds of East Lothian council workers apply to work from home permanently

Nearly one in four council staff who were able to work from home during the pandemic have applied to make the change permanent.

A virtual meeting of East Lothian Council has been told that 176 applications had been received since a new homework policy was introduced last September by the local authority.

During the height of lockdown it was estimated 800 council staff worked from home.

READ MORE: East Lothian council tax rises 3 per cent amid claim cost of services went up by £12 million

A report to councillors said of the 176 who have asked for a permanent change just over 100 have been approved to date.

And it revealed that work was already being carried out at one council base to revise office space with staff who no longer require a desk asked to "de-personalise" their spaces.

The Penston House office rationalisation project has looked at changing the council offices at its Macmerry site.

And councillors were told staff had been involved in the changes through a series of 'town hall' meetings with similar plans for council offices at Randall House, also in Macmerry, and the council's Haddington headquarters John Muir House.

A council spokesperson said: "The rationalisation project is following the identification of how best to use existing office space and to create appropriate workplaces.

"For many this is simply the requirement for ‘hot desking’ areas whereas for others there may be a need to retain an identified space for either individuals or teams.

"The next stage is that those who will no longer require a set desk or office will be asked to ‘de-personalise’ their existing workplace and remove personal belongings and also identify required files for central storage.

"This process will then be repeated in Randall House and John Muir House."

,Councillors were asked to approve changes to the homework contracts which would allow employees to spend 60 per cent of their working time at home to qualify, instead of the 80 per cent previously required as part of the contract.

And they were asked to back changes to the worksmart policy which hybrid working offered on a non contractual basis to some staff.

A report into the revisions said they reflected the need for "flexible working practices".

Concerns were raised over whether a need to reduce the council's assets was being put before the needs of staff.

Councillor Fiona O'Donnell asked: "Is the experience of staff informing the assets review rather than the review informing the staff and are the needs of staff being met?"

However Tom Reid, council's head of infrastructure, said: "The assets management review is being fully informed by staff.

"We are on a journey, this is a different council to what it was two years ago and it will be very different in two years time."

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