Mottley says flexible working options will remain even as physical office work once again becomes default for public service
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS — Scores of public workers are back in the office this morning as Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced over the weekend that the government and health officials have ruled it safe for some activities to resume in-person.
In making the announcement, Mottley acknowledged that the return to office represents a “significant” departure from the position taken over the course of the pandemic, where working remotely became a new norm across the globe.
“The government of Barbados would have taken a decision yesterday, the Cabinet subcommittee met with the EOC (Emergency Operation Center), and we’ve agreed that there shall be the return to work by the public service from the 1st of March, which is Tuesday,” she said.
“We cannot continue to live as if we have nothing else to do besides manage COVID.” - Prime Minister Mia Mottley
“This is a significant departure because, as you know, over the course of the last two years, for the most part, we’ve had some level of remote activity.
“Even though in the third quarter of 2020 we saw increased attendance back at work, once alpha (COVID-19 variant) became a reality at the beginning of 2021, for the most part last year, we had remote work in the public service.
“It is our judgment that it is safe for persons to return fully from the 1st of March.”
Return to office does not cancel remote work
Like Barbados, several other countries around the globe have begun advising workers that it is safe to head back into office, potentially signaling the end of the remote-working-en-masse model that became the norm at the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
However, Prime Minister Mottley emphasized that remote working options will not be erased, as the government had already begun embracing flexible working even before the pandemic began.
“That there will still be elements of flexible work,” she confirmed.
“As you know, prior to the establishment of the regime for the pandemic, the social partnership had advised and the government had accepted a regime of flexible work.
“What does that mean in simple terms? That those persons who will partake in flexible work must receive the consent of the head of department and their permanent secretary, but it will not be a case of all persons operating from at home, as happened in certain departments before.”
Rather, Mottley said the return to in-person offices is because while safety must be paramount, “we cannot continue to live as if we have nothing else to do besides manage COVID”.