The future of the police could see more officers working from home and choosing their own hours in a bid to improve diversity, according to a leading force official.
Paul Fotheringham, the newly-elected President of the Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA), suggested such arrangements would especially help women with young children to reach senior ranks, rather than making them feel they had to bow out of the force due to unworkable shift patterns around family life.
Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, he said: ‘There’s no escaping the fact that we can’t compete in many ways with the private sector when it comes to employee packages and benefits, but we have so much else to offer that’s [unique] to policing.
Police officers should be allowed to work from home in a bid to boost diversity and help more mothers with young children rise through the ranks, a leading police official has said (file pic)
‘The only way we will continue to be attractive as a career choice, whilst also bringing in people representing our communities, is to become more flexible and forward thinking when it comes to working patterns.’
He added that the pandemic had hastened the adoption of new technology, with remote working now becoming the norm.
Flexible working would benefit non-emergency response officers, who make up more than half of the police workforce, he said.
There would however continue to be frontline officers working around the clock to respond to emergencies.
A third of 1,000 office employees surveyed recently said they have not been in the workplace since March 2020. Pictured: Commuters at London Bridge station last month
Mr Fotheringham, who spent 28 years with the Kent Force, rising to detective chief superintendent, explained: ‘Obviously in terms of uniformed officers you are always going to need people available to deal with emergencies but policing is about many different roles so the challenge for us in the future is to be much more flexible.’
His comments come as businesses continue to announce flexible working arrangements for their staff, despite Boris Johnson ending the directive to work from home in England back in January.
Last month, tech giant Twitter told all its employees that they could work from home ‘forever’ if they wished to do so.
In a message sent to all staff and posted on Twitter, CEO Parag Agrawal said: ‘As we open back up our approach remains the same.
‘Wherever you feel most productive and creative is where you will work and that includes working from home full-time forever.’
Elsewhere, hybrid working has been embraced more fully in some parts of the country than others.
Staff in London are working from home more than anywhere else in Britain – with half of employees still at their kitchen table or ‘hybrid working’.
In other areas of the country they are much more likely to have gone back to the workplace full-time, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has told his employees they can work from home ‘forever’ if wanted
Staff can work ‘wherever you feel most productive and creative’, be that the office or home
In Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the North East, just 18 to 20 per cent of people are still shunning the office all or part of the time.
The data lays bare the divide between London and the rest of the nation. The capital has a high concentration of wealthy white-collar workers, able to do desk-based jobs from home.
And employers at City firms, desperate to attract the best talent, are forced to offer as many ‘perks’ as they can.
Latest research for insurance brokerage Gallagher backs this up with a third of employees who previously worked in offices saying they had not returned in almost two years following the March 2020 lockdown.
A quarter of business leaders said their employees’ contracts do not stipulate that they need to work from a specific location, the study suggests.
The research found that most businesses are suggesting workers should be in the office full-time now or in the near future, or a minimum of part-time, as they implement a hybrid model.
But a third of the 1,000 business leaders surveyed said they are meeting resistance from their employees towards returning to the workplace even part-time.
In the starkest endorsement of working from home, civil servants have continued to shun Whitehall offices, despite the Government urging them to return.
In February, MailOnline reported that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is said to have made 400 desks available for its 900 employees as it adopts ‘department-wide hybrid working’.
One civil servant working in the department told The Times: ‘There’s not enough momentum on going back in. It’s nice for a change of scene, but you go in and just end up sitting on video calls in an open-plan office.’
Sources also told the newspaper that the Department for Education ‘expects people to be in the office for 40 to 60 per cent of their working week’, despite Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi wanting them at their desks more.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged his colleagues to ‘show a lead and make sure that we get back to work’.
Whitehall is however only expected to have office space for half of the civil servants based there from 2030, because of a strategy to rationalise the government estate in London which currently costs £621million a year to run.