Civil servants were told to get back to office – but there's not enough desks

New figures have revealed the Department for International Trade only has enough desk space to accommodate 22% of its staff in the office – despite a government push to get civil servants to stop working from home.

In April, Cabinet Office minister Jacob Rees-Mogg circulated a letter to fellow ministers in which he urged them to “send a clear message to civil servants in your department to ensure a rapid return to the office”.

But data obtained by Sky News under the Freedom of Information Act show the extent to which offices in Whitehall are unable to provide sufficient desk space for all employees.

In 2022, the Department for International Trade’s office in Admiralty Place had 3,151 workers and 708 desks.

The Department of Health and Social Care’s London office had just 848 desks for 2,707 employees – meaning there is space to accommodate just 31% of staff. Since 2018, the number of workers attached has nearly tripled, but only ten extra desks have been found.


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