Work has finished on two remote-working hubs in Northern Ireland that will become part of a network allowing departments to offer flexible working for civil servants.
Plans to set up 10 hubs in town centres outside Belfast were announced in February, and two of them – in Downpatrick and Ballykelly – are now ready for officials to use once coronavirus restrictions lift, the Department of Finance has confirmed.
Government guidance in Northern Ireland still says people should work from home where possible to curb the spread of Covid-19.
When the plans were announced, the finance ministry said it expected the two locations to open in spring, but that this would only go ahead “when appropriate in line with health advice and health protection regulations”.
The hubs opening this spring will be based at the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs site at Ballykelly, and Rathkeltair House in Downpatrick, where civil servants from DAERA, the Department for Infrastructure and other ministries are based.
Eight more hubs – in Ballymena, Craigavon, Omagh, and the Antrim/Newtownabbey, Derry/Londonderry, Enniskillen, Newry and the Bangor/Newtownards area – are set to open over the next two years.
Many of the buildings to be used for the hubs have yet to be identified, so it is not yet known how many officials will be able to use them.
A DoF spokesperson said: "While it is too early to determine how many Northern Ireland Civil Service employees in total the hubs will accommodate, they will offer staff from across all departments a local, well-equipped and flexible working environment to support business needs."