More than 2,000 CS deployed as an extra force to manage Covid-19

Yangchen C Rinzin 

Royal Civil Service Commission will allow agencies to continue work from home (WFH) to avoid crowding in offices until the Covid-19 situation improves, officials said.

Government offices were allowed to work from home beginning March 30, and the initial timeline was until the end of June.

However, the commission decided to let it continue until the government issues a directive saying that the pandemic situation has improved, RCSC director general Tashi Pem said.

RCSC had earlier notified that expecting mothers and employees under pre-medical conditions could work from home. Otherwise, the office could split into teams and work on alternate days.

The move was to ensure no disruptions in critical or essential services during the pandemic. The RCSC divided the services into three categories: critical services that require officials in office, and essential or routine services that can be delivered from office or home.

The third category was services that can be deferred for the time being, and employees could stay home.

Despite allegations and complaints on social media of delays on services, owing to the work from home scheme, the RCSC has decided to continue with it.

The director general said this was because RCSC did not receive any complaints.

“If people complain specifically about which agency has delayed the services, we’ll respond. We would appreciate constructive feedback, and we’ve tried to ensure no critical public services are disturbed.”

Director general said that as of May approximately 8,000 civil servants were working from office because their services were deemed critical. They would continue to work from their stations even if the country went under lockdown, she said.

About 7,000 civil servants are currently either working from home or office depending on the workforce in the respective agency.

“But these figures are excluding civil servants from six southern dzongkhags, education and health ministries,” she said. “The civil servants in southern dzongkhags have not even been able to implement WFH, as they’re involved in managing the Covid-19 situation almost every day either on field or office.”

The director general said that this was why it was unlikely that the services were delayed or affected because of WFH.

More than 2,000 civil servants are deployed as an additional voluntary force in dzongkhags along the border in managing the Covid-19 situation. It also includes civil servants serving as Desuup and those trained by the health ministry as frontline responders.

“Maybe, that’s why some services are not met, but then we have to understand we need additional workforce somewhere to combat the Covid-19,” Tashi Pem said.

The RCSC has not yet assessed the effectiveness of WFH. Tashi Pem said, “Had this been implemented as new norms during a normal situation, then it would require evaluation. But right now we have to do it to comply with the government’s directives on the physical distancing.”

There were internet issues at home, and some felt discussions were not fruitful compared to an in-person meeting.

Tashi Pem said that some civil servants with large families at home continued to work from office for convenience.

“So WFH also depends on the type of working environment at home. However, WFH is guided by guidelines and Dos and Don’ts.”

There are about 30,000 civil servants.