Food tsar backs PM's warning that WFH makes people raid the fridge

Food tsar backs PM’s warning that WFH means people end up grazing from the fridge – as minister risks split by saying civil servants are ‘still delivering’ away from the office

  • Boris Johnson suggested people spend too much time eating when they WFH
  • Food tsar Henry Dimbleby said it was right people could snack ‘unconsciously’
  • Home Office minister risked split saying civil servants ‘still delivering’ from home

The government’s food tsar today backed Boris Johnson’s warning that people end up obsessively grazing from the fridge while working from home.

Henry Dimbleby said Britons were likely to load up on snacks ‘unconsciously’ if they were logged on in their kitchens.

Meanwhile, a minister risked contradicting the PM by insisting civil servants are ‘still delivering’ away from the office.

With the end of Covid restrictions across the UK, Mr Johnson has pledged to get workers back behind their desks more regularly.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Mr Johnson even admitted to his own struggles when working from home.

He described how he founds himself spending ‘an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee’, or ‘hacking off a small piece of cheese’ from the fridge, before ‘forgetting what it was you’re doing’.


Henry Dimbleby (left) backed Boris Johnson (right), saying Britons were likely to load up on snacks ‘unconsciously’ if they were logged on in their kitchens

In a round of interviews today Home Office minister Rachel Maclean said civil servants are ‘working really hard’ and that they ‘are still delivering’ when working away from the office

Mr Dimbleby, who founded the Leon chain of restaurants, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that research supported the suggestion.

‘I haven’t seen any evidence on it, but it is certainly the case – and there are loads of studies to show this – if food is within arm’s reach one eats it unconsciously,’ he said.

‘The best thing you can do if you are in a meeting with a plate of biscuits is to put it down the other end of the table.

‘So if you are sitting in your kitchen working I wouldn’t be surprised, the evidence prior to the pandemic would suggest that you might well unconsciously or while on the phone nip into the fridge and pop in a little slice of cheese without really noticing it.’

Mr Johnson’s comments came on the back of a drive by Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg to get civil servants back to their Whitehall desks and end a ‘WFH’ culture within departments.

Mr Rees-Mogg has drawn criticism for his efforts – which include leaving ‘sorry you were out’ notes for absent officials – while trade union leaders have demanded the Government to show ‘a bit of basic respect’ for those still working from home.

However, in a round of interviews today Home Office minister Rachel Maclean said civil servants are ‘working really hard’ and that they ‘are still delivering’ when working away from the office.

‘A lot of them are back at work and we certainly have civil servants in the Home Office – when I go back there today, they will be back at their desks,’ the safeguarding minister told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme.

‘I think the economy as a whole has moved to a more hybrid working pattern, I’m quite relaxed about that.

‘I think it is for employers to consider how best to achieve their outcomes. It is actually about performance and delivery.’

Asked whether she was ‘at odds’ with Mr Rees-Mogg on the issue of working from home, Ms Maclean said: ‘Not at all.’

She added: ‘We’ve had a pandemic, things have changed, people work differently.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has voiced ‘suspicions’ that many civil servants are choosing to work from home on Mondays and Fridays as they think ‘the working week is shorter than the reality is’

‘If people work from home, it is incumbent on their managers and ministers, such as myself, to make sure they are still delivering. And actually, that’s what we are seeing in the Home Office.’

The PM has revealed plans to cut 91,000 civil servant jobs and use the £3.5billion to help pay for tax cuts to ease the cost of living crisis.

Mr Rees-Mogg has voiced ‘suspicions’ that many civil servants are choosing to work from home on Mondays and Fridays as they think ‘the working week is shorter than the reality is’.

The Cabinet minister also vowed to check office attendance rates against Met Office weather reports, as he hinted some officials were choosing not to come into the office on sunny days.

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