Home Office splashes out £37m on devices in remote working push

The Home Office has invested an estimated £37.7m on over 53,000 new laptops, tablets and phones in the last three years, in order to aid remote working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly half of these devices (24,253) were purchased in the last 12 months alone.

This is according to new data retrieved via the Freedom of Information (FOI) act, and analysed by a Parliament Street think tank. The data provided revealed the number of laptops, tablets and phones bought by the Home Office, and their estimated cost, in a 12-month period each September, dating back to 2019.

The data uncovered that in the year prior to Covid-19, 8,303 devices were purchased by the Home Office, a number which increased by 148 per cent from September 2019 to September 2020. A further 18 per cent increase occurred between September 2020 and September 2021.

Experts revealed that the uptick in device investiture is likely due to the onset of mass remote working during the pandemic. In fact, laptop purchases for staffers from 6,940 in September 2019, to 16,889 in 2020, to 16,586 in 2021.

The most interesting trend has been the stark increase in mobile phones bought for Home Office staffers over the past 3 years. The number has risen from 1,361 in 2019, to 2,031 in 2020, to 7,638 in 2021, a staggering 461 per cent increase since the introduction of remote working.

There has also been an increase in Zoom expenditure from the Home Office over the 3-year period, paying a total cost of £6,715.80 on licenses for 142 unique users.

The data also revealed the volume of new Office 365 accounts acquired by the Home Office. Pre Covid-19, 3,804 new accounts were purchased, falling to 513 by September 2020 but rising again to 2,415 in September 2021 as the enticement of remote working has remained from the pandemic.

Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director for Zoho Europe commented:  “These devices are of course essential for any remote working. However, a hybrid working model has emerged as one which works well for many and it’s good to see that the Home Office has supplied its workforce with portable devices which could enable this. The combination of remote and office working demands a shift towards using devices which allow staff to work from anywhere. This flexibility allows the Home Office, and other institutions, to adapt to the evolving working situation, ensuring staff are prepared for both temporary remote work as well as a long term hybrid working model.”

“Providing portable devices is a positive step, but it must coincide with the right leadership, flexible working culture, digital tools and training to ensure success both in and out of the office. In time we expect a hybrid working model to become the predominant system, where suitable, as we believe it offers the best of both worlds for staff and employers.”

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