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Six ICBs require staff to work from office at least one day per week

Published on: 26 Mar 2024

Six integrated care boards have policies which require hybrid working staff to be in the office either one or two days per week.

Thirty-one systems told HSJ they either had no set ‘days in office’ policy for hybrid workers, or that they left this up to individual teams. The remaining five did not provide details by time of publication.

The findings come after NHS England told staff they will be required to work at least two days in the office a week from April, after almost four years of many staff being able to work from home full time.

Many ICBs were formed by the consolidation of multiple clinical commissioning groups, many of which had local offices. Depending on the size and geography of a system, a requirement for staff to work in a central location would require some staff to travel long distances.

The Derby and Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Kent and Medway and Surrey Heartlands ICSs each tell their hybrid workers they are expected in the office at least two days per week in most cases, while there is an expectation of one day office working per week at Lincolnshire and Frimley ICSs.

Policies say ‘agile working’ can be beneficial for both staff and the ICB, including better work-life balance and flexibility.

Northamptonshire’s policy also notes potential benefits such as reduced transport costs, and “ecological benefits.” But it says “agile” home working “may not suit every employee”.

“The employee must be self-motivated and disciplined to enable them to deal with home distractions that may interrupt the home working ability,” the policy states.

NHSE said in January that the new two-days-per-week policy would “create the best possible inclusive culture, experience and environment”.

Its headquarters was relocated from Elephant and Castle to Waterloo, both in central London, during the pandemic. It also has offices in Leeds and other regional locations.

An NHS England spokesman said: “This policy has been introduced to implement a more consistent approach across the new NHS England where all staff have the same minimum level of in-person working requirements, but there will be reasonable adjustments for those who require them.

“In-person working has many recognised benefits and is particularly important for staff at the beginning of their career or starting new roles.”