By Kirsty Topping
THOUSANDS of staff at a Scots council are to be made to work from home in a bid to save money.
Edinburgh council is to purchase 2000 laptops to allow staff to work from home – or anywhere which has a wireless internet connection.
The move could see workers spending shifts anywhere from libraries to fast food restaurants.
The measures were revealed as part of council plans to axe 21 social work centres and offices in a bid to save £18million.
Staff will be moved to a different office, work from a “hot desk” within a council building or take part in the home working scheme.
The closures will affect around 5700 staff, with only a third expected to be left with a permanent desk.
Councillor Phil Wheeler, the city’s finance leader, said: “This is about much more than simply replacing computers or saving on building costs. It genuinely marks a step towards transforming how the council operates now and in years to come. New technology offers us the chance to change how our staff work and the quality of services we provide.
“If we can harness the opportunities provided by IT that will help us both become a better employer for a modern workforce and meet our customers’ expectations as they develop.”
More than 3000 staff would undertake “flexible working” if the scheme goes ahead, with a further 75 being based permanently at home.
Another 180 would be “mobile workers”, working in the community with no need to have an office. A shared office space would be used by 39 workers.
The remainder would have a fixed desk but could be moved to another building.
The council says that the scheme would cost £13m over 10 years but would ultimately save £31.6m, leaving a “profit” of £18.1m.
But they admitted that the cost of the project would be more than any savings for the first three years.
The council will have to invest £2.5m between now and 2015 to get the necessary IT systems in place.
David Jack, acting director of corporate services at the city council, said: “The programme offers the potential for staff to benefit from the adoption of a modern and flexible approach to work enabling a more productive and efficient organisation.”