HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) had invested in almost 40,000 laptops, tablets and phones for its employees since October 2020 in a bid to facilitate hybrid and remote working.
That's according to data retrieved by a Freedom of Information (FOI), analysed by the Parliament Street think tank, which revealed HMRC has invested in 37,624 laptops, tablets and phones in the last 12 months.
This hardware investment was a 366% increase year-on-year, with HMRC providing employees with a total of 8,080 devices between October 2019 and September 2020.
For the same period between 2018 and 2019, months prior to the start of the pandemic, HMRC employees received only 600 new devices. The findings highlight how drastically the working environment has changed since March 2020, and how staff have become increasingly reliant on hardware provided by their employers in order to be able to continue working remotely.
The results of the FOI also showcase shifting attitudes towards the work/life balance. Over the last year, there has been a 297% increase in mobile phones being handed out to HMRC staff, as employees choose to be contacted for work on a separate device. The data reveals that HMRC rolled out 27,000 over the past 12 months, compared to just 700 laptops.
However, tablets recorded the most significant rise since the start of the pandemic, skyrocketing from just 580 in October 2019-September 2020, to 9,924 in October 2020-September 2021 – a 1,611% increase.
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HMRC staffers also received 374 more Microsoft Office 365 licenses than the year prior, with the department having invested in a total of 7,647 new Microsoft Office 365 licenses since June 2019.
The hardware and software investments helped to shift HMRC operations to a remote basis during lockdowns, with the department’s employees currently allowed to continue working from home for at least two days a week.
This is despite the government’s recommendation that workers return to working in physical offices. Earlier this year, Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned young workers against falling into the trap of permanent remote working, suggesting that it could be detrimental to building strong working relationships.
A spokesperson for HMRC told IT Pro that its employees "already had devices that supported remote and mobile working prior to the pandemic".
"However, many of those devices were four years old and at the end of their working life so we’ve replaced them over the last twelve months. The new devices are up-to-date and more capable, helping ensure our colleagues can deliver the best service to our customers," they added.
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Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.
Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.