Only 2 of the 11 planned public service centers are operational


Only two of the 11 new “centers” planned for civil servants to combine office time and homework have been opened.

The other nine planned will only start to become operational in the next two years.

And a location for the Antrim and Newtownabbey area hub has yet to be found.

The so-called Connect2 regional hubs are the result of the Covid-19 pandemic and a growing insistence that civil servants not return to their offices full-time, in the longer term.

Most of the civil servants are based in Greater Belfast, but the idea behind the hubs is to allow staff to work closer to where they live subject to company requirements, thus improving their work / life balance. personal and stimulating the local economy.

A survey showed that almost 98 percent were in favor of some form of blend or “hybrid” that would work for the future.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy said: “Working from home in the aftermath of Covid-19 has given many officials the opportunity to achieve a more balanced work / life arrangement. “

A report from his department said it was significant that “so many respondents reported strong positive experiences with the ability to work flexibly.

“It is important that the NI public service recognizes the positive impacts this has had on health and well-being. “

The first two hubs opened earlier last year in Ballykelly and Downpatrick and this year is expected to see more in Ballymena, Craigavon, Omagh and Antrim / Newtownabbey.

Mr Murphy also admitted in a response from the Assembly: “No location has been finalized for the planned hub in the Antrim / Newtownabbey area. “

But that will be next year – 2023 – before the hubs in Derry, Enniskillen, Newry and the Bangor / Newtownards area come on stream.

“They will transform the way civil servants work, allow them to be based closer to home, reducing travel time and carbon emissions while significantly promoting regional economic balance,” said Murphy .

“A decision on when to open the completed hubs will be made with due regard to current public health advice. ”

The new hybrid labor policy has been agreed with the central unions.

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