Monmouth Member of the Welsh Parliament, Nick Ramsay, during last week’s virtual Plenary session raised the issue of home working and some possible opportunities this might provide for the future.
Nick referred to the possible staggering of commuting times and encouraging home working when we do emerge from the current crisis. He suggested that money earmarked for infrastructure projects could possibly be released for other purposes if more people work from home in the future. This could also be useful to help tackle the climate emergency.
In addition Nick asked: “Could you tell us what discussions you're having with the economy Minister to make sure that key sectors of the economy, such as high-tech manufacturing, for instance, which are going to be very important as we come out of this pandemic and rebuild the economy—what is being done specifically to assist those areas of the economy that are going to drive us forward and make sure that, in the future, the Welsh economy is stronger than it is at the present time?”
Nick received the following reply from Jeremy Miles MS, Counsel General for Wales and Brexit Minister: “The changing of work patterns and how people respond to the need to continue to persuade and instil confidence in the workforce that they are in a safe environment will drive a lot of change, I think, for some time, won't it? So, home working will be a feature of that, which we obviously understand—as you say, staggered work days and other initiatives. But that poses a number of other challenges for us as well, doesn't it? So, for example, in Wales, we have a relatively higher proportion of key workers and a relatively lower proportion of workers from home in the current COVID situation, because of the make-up of our economy. So, the task will be to support those who are able to do that and want to continue to do that. And we don't underestimate the challenges that employers will face in addressing what are a multiple number of changes.
“I think there will be an important role for governments to play together in trying to have a shared understanding of what the future can look like and I think, certainly across the UK, that four- nations approach will play a continued part in that as well as in the immediate response—at least I hope it will.”