Nicola Sturgeon is urging the Scottish workforce to work from home in the run-up to Christmas as the Omicron variant of Covid becomes more prevalent. 

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the First Minister asked employers to allow their staff to work from home where possible in order to help "stem transmission and avoid the need for even more onerous measures."

She said: "We already advise people to work from home where practical. Today, I am asking employers to ensure this is happening.

"To be blunt, if you had staff working from home at this start of the pandemic, please now enable them to do so again.

"We are asking you to do this from now until the middle of January when we will review this advice again."

But who exactly was working from home at the start of the pandemic?

Here's what we know...

Who is the Scottish Government asking to work from home?

The Scottish Government is asking anyone who worked from home at the start of the pandemic to do so once again until mid-January. 

At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, Nicola Sturgeon said that it was up to employers to decide if working from home was feasible. 

Now, almost two years later, she is once again calling on employers to make the call. 

At the start of the pandemic, it was largely only key workers who could go into work, while everyone else was told to work from home. 

Key workers were divided into three categories:

Category 1

  • Health and care workers directly supporting Covid response, and associated staff
  • Health and care workers supporting life-threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision
  • Energy suppliers and staff providing childcare/learning for other Category 1 staff.

Category 2

  • All other health and care workers, and wider public sector workers providing emergency/critical welfare services (e.g Fire, Police, Prisons, Social Workers, etc),
  • Those supporting our critical national infrastructure, without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused.

Category 3

  • All workers (private, public or third sector) without whom there could be a significant impact on Scotland (but where the response to Covid-19, or the ability to perform essential tasks to keep the country running, would not be severely compromised)

Of course, at the start of the pandemic, non-essential businesses that could not operate from home were told to shut and their employees were put on furlough. 

This time mass closures have not been introduced meaning people working from home will largely be those who are office-based. 

How long is the work from home advice in place?

The work from home advice is in place until the middle of January according to the First Minister. 

In January, it will be reviewed again. 

Why has home working been so strongly advised?

According to the First Minister, home working could play a key role in curbing the spread of Omicron. 

After asking people who worked at home at the beginning of the pandemic to do so again, she concluded: "Please - and I really hope this will be for one last time in this pandemic - let’s all pull together, do what is necessary, and get each other and the country through this winter and into what we all hope will be a better and brighter spring."