April 23, 2024, 11:11 am

Siyam Hoque

2020-04-19 19:28:54 BdST

Online office: Private employees more active than govt officials

Although employees at different private institutions are continuing to work from home during the ongoing government-declared general holidays, most government employees are enjoying the holidays without attending offices online.

Experts say implementation of virtual offices for government officials is also possible.

Nazrul Islam Khan, former national project director of the Access to Information Programme of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), said all government officials can work online from home if the authorities want that to happen.

“Now it’s very much possible to keep offices, including ministries, operational thanks to internet facilities. Important meetings can be arranged using Zoom and Google. Besides, letters and other files can be transferred easily through e-filing system. But these are not happening now,” he said.

Earlier, all ministries were instructed by the PMO to use e-filing system to turn Bangladesh into a digital country. But the instruction was not fully implemented. Now a number of ministries are using the technology on trial basis.

As the number of coronavirus cases in the country is growing and the global situation worsening, the government on March 23 declared general holidays from March 26 and later extended that to April 25.

Sources said officials at different ministries and subordinate agencies do not need to work from home as there is no pressure of work since the holidays were declared.

In a number of ministries, officials are working from home if there is an emergency. In some cases, officials of administration section are passing busy time with office work from home while others are enjoying the general holidays.

But the scenario is different at the PMO, Cabinet Division, ministries of health, public administration, disaster management and relief, home, agriculture, industries, commerce, foreign and expatriate welfare, Directorate General of Food, Directorate General of Health Services, Local Government Division, Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh Army and all law enforcement agencies.

Public Administration Secretary Shaikh Yusuf Harun said some of their officials are working from home while some are attending the office as per a roster prepared for the holidays.

“We’re working on both e-documents and hard files. Besides, we’re maintaining close contact with local administrations round the clock,” he said.

Contacted, Senior Secretary of LGD Helal Uddin Ahmed said they are using e-Filing technology during the holiday period. Besides, meetings are being arranged if there is any emergency.

“Our officials are monitoring the situation at the grassroots level to ensure that local representatives are discharging their duties properly,” he added.

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman told FT Team that he along with the secretary to his ministry is attending office regularly. A roster was made for the officials of the ministry.

Mahbubur Rahman, secretary to the Secondary and Higher Education Division, also came up with same remarks. They are working from home and instructing officials through a Whatsapp group.

According to the directives issued by the Cabinet Division recently, officials of all government offices at upazila, district and division levels were asked to stay at their work stations to help the authorities in the case of any emergency.

On the other hand, officials at different private companies, including Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink, are working online from home.

Hossain Shahadat, director (regulatory affairs) of Grameenphone, said they made necessary arrangements to provide their employees ‘office-from-home’ facilities before the general holidays were declared.

“We faced some problems to materialise the plan, but now it’s been comfortable for all of us,” he said.

More than 2,000 people are currently employed by the company.

Another private mobile operator, Robi, had been making arrangements for ‘office from home’ since last year. Now their preparations are being used in the best way during the coronavirus outbreak.

Shahed Alam, head of corporate and regulatory officer of Robi, said their employees had the opportunity to work from home earlier.

“We’ve all the necessary preparations. Now we’re facing no hassle to work from home,” he added.

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