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'Sorry you were out': Why remote workers had this strange message left on their desks

Efficiency minister's passive-aggressive message for remote workers has been criticised.
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Written by Steve Ranger, Editorial director, ZDNet on

Staff working remotely for one government department might be surprised to find a somewhat passive-aggressive note placed on their desks back in the office, reading: 'Sorry you were out'.

According to The Guardian newspaper, the printed cards were left on desks at the Cabinet Office in London.

The notes, printed with a government crest, said: "Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon. With every good wish, Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP."

SEE: Remote work vs office life: Lots of experiments and no easy answers

Rees-Mogg, who is the minister for 'Government Efficiency', has been keen for civil servants to return to the office. Last week, he wrote to his Cabinet colleagues asking them to accelerate the return of civil servants to office buildings, in order "to realise the benefits of face-to-face, collaborative working and the wider benefits for the economy."

However, a civil service union has warned that workers have shown they can deliver public services whether they're working from home or from the office, adding that "ministers can't point to productivity losses" linked to increased hybrid working in the civil service.

Many organisations are experimenting with different ways of organising the working week, with remote- and hybrid-working options becoming increasingly common, and for some companies a means of attracting top talent.

More flexible working could also make it easier for people who may be put off by an inflexible 9-5 regime to enter the workforce. Research by software company Slack found that inflexible policies are more likely to make staff leave an organisation.

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