CHANGES to ways of working at the region’s biggest employer following the Covid-19 pandemic is saving the public purse millions of pounds a year, freeing up huge amounts of staff time while also producing significant environmental benefits, figures have revealed.

A study of North Yorkshire County Council’s workforce has found its staff mileage bill was more than £1.7 million lower in the year to April than it had been in the year before the pandemic struck, with staff driving

4,117,062 fewer miles to meetings than in 2019/20.

In the two years to April, the extensive introduction of online meetings by the authority, which employs 15,000 staff, saw a total saving of almost £4 million, the equivalent to more than 2,700 average annual council tax bills.

An officer’s report to a meeting of the authority’s executive on Tuesday states the vastly reduced mileage also has also create savings in terms of officer time travelling to and from meetings.

The report estimates over the two years it saved 369,500 hours, or 49,200 working days, the equivalent to some 233 full-time staff.

It states: “Over 2,000 employees had moved quickly to work from home at the start of the pandemic and the way in which teams can work remotely and

virtually has been transformational.

“There has been a carefully considered approach to developing future ways of working post Covid following whole organisation engagement in 2021. Hybrid

working has been welcomed by council staff. This new approach provides great flexibility for many roles.”

Crucially for the authority aiming to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, the reduced mileage would have also reduced carbon emissions by 2,710 tonnes over the two years.

The authority is aiming generate further post-pandemic savings by rationalising its extensive property portfolio as more work is completed virtually and demand for physical meeting spaces has been reduced.

The officers’ report states: “It should also be noted these savings are just

in terms of travelling to and from meetings. The savings to individual members of staff working from home, fuel cost and time, and to the environment, will be significantly bigger.

“Although some of these figures will start to increase again as staff return to the office on a more frequent basis, there will be many other benefits that new ways of working have brought us that can be retained.”

The report highlights other benefits of changed working practices include improved attendance at multi-agency meetings, the ability to attend

more meetings and arrange meetings sooner than if relying on getting people together at the same place, and as such the tempo of work can increase.

With many staff working from home and attending meetings online, there has been a sharp reduction in the number of documents being sent to print.

In the year before the pandemic the council’s staff printed some 14.5 million

sheets of paper compared to 7.6 million last year. Over the last two years the reduction in printing has saved the equivalent of 1,800 trees.


The authority’s deputy leader, Councillor Gareth Dadd, said while it remained unclear as to the level of savings that the work practice changes would produce in the coming years, how technology could be used to cut travel would “feature very heavily in our thinking moving forward”.