‘I’ve realised how much I missed giggling with colleagues’: Paul Willgoss on returning to the office in 2023

The vice-chair of the Civil Service Disability Network on the fear of those who shielded as office working returned, and on creating a more accessible civil service
Photo: Adobe Stock

By CSW staff

15 Dec 2023


Tell us three words that sum up your 2023...  

Scary, Perplexed, Giggles. 

...And why you chose those words   

Scary – I was one of those who shielded through Covid due to a congenital heart condition and diabetes. As we’ve returned to a more office-based way of working, I’ve shared the fears and worries of many of us with long-term health conditions and disabilities. 

Perplexed – the Civil Service Disability Network is still having very similar discussions about accessibility to those we were having when we were set up in 1999.  There have been some bright spots – the people survey now being accessible to anybody who needs reasonable adjustments, the changes to online L&D – but too often we’re having to raise issues that should have been handled at the start of projects with even a cursory thought about making things accessible for all civil servants. 

Giggles – as more people have come back to the office, I’ve realised how much I missed giggling with colleagues over something on the telly, or one or our misadventures (in love or otherwise). 

What are your organisational and personal priorities for 2024?   

CSDN – continue to develop our relationship with the corporate functions of the civil service, promote accessibility in all of its forms and work to address the idea that security and accessibility are incompatible. 

Personal – actually train for some of my runs and bike rides this year. Learn to swim enough that I can complete a triathlon and giggle more! 

What’s your favourite festive treat, and what makes you say: ‘Bah, humbug’?   

Favourite – Kirsch-soaked cherry, wrapped in marzipan, enrobed with dark chocolate… 

Humbug – diet adverts, especially the really out-there ones, starting on boxing day! 

This is part of CSW's annual perm secs roundup. Read all the entries to the 2023 roundup here

Read the most recent articles written by CSW staff - Tell us about HR in your organisation


Share this page