Agenda item

Corporate Ways of Working.


The Committee considered a report of the Director of Corporate Resources which provided an update on the Council’s Ways of Working programme and shared the recommendations from the Scrutiny Task and Finish Group which met in December 2021. A copy of the report, marked ‘Agenda Item 11‘, is filed with these minutes.


In presenting the report, the Director explained that there had been a great deal of success with implementing the Ways of Working Programme, with leases agreed with external tenants for space at County Hall which was not being used. He added that the leasing of such space was being handled in a measured way while the Council’s internal structures were settling but there were significant opportunities to increase rental income. A pilot office model project had been running in County Hall room 700 for some time and feedback had been received from staff involved. The feedback would be used for future development with a key focus on developing a positive and flexible working culture and to ensure managers had the resources to effectively manage a hybrid team. A considerable amount of organisational development support was in place in order to support teams in generating the right culture for the new ways of working to be successful and to fully exploit the benefits that were set out in the organisational business case. Moving forward, productivity and efficiency would be the main focus across the organisation, in light of the future MTFS reductions predicted and managers would be using their skills to manage performance regardless of where people worked.


In response to concerns expressed by the Committee, the Director explained that:


       i.        staff would not be pressured to work from home as it was recognised that this could lead to isolation. The majority of staff across the Council who were previously completely office based had been included in the transition to flexible working and there were no staff members working permanently at home. Each service had developed a bespoke Ways of Working Action Plan to bring about the benefits of flexible working for staff, service delivery to customers, the organisation and productivity. There would be a focus on collaborative working, effective management of productivity and sufficient social interaction within teams rather than focussing on staff being based in the office for a specific number of days. The Director explained that managers understood that some staff may feel isolated and would hold regular reviews with their staff to discuss the best working environment for them and to offer support, ensuring that they were engaged, productive and included. He added that, the offer of flexible working would form a key part of the recruitment and retention strategy, to mirror the offer from the Council’s competitors as this was now an expectation from potential applicants.


      ii.        The safety of staff working from home was paramount. All staff were required to complete an online DSE assessment for their home environment and managers received results of the assessment. Managers were holding conversations with staff around their general wellbeing, working location, conditions and provision of the correct equipment for carrying out their role. Members noted that there would be difficulty in the Council eliminating all hazards around the employee’s home environment which did not relate to their work-based activity.


     iii.        Managers would use a range of methods to monitor performance and productivity effectively, as well as supporting the wellbeing of their staff, such as regular one to one meetings, wellbeing conversations, customer feedback and tracking key deliverables. Staff performance would be easier to measure in areas where activities would be tracked through numerical targets, such as the Customer Service Centre, rather than in teams where, for example, project working would be more common. A Performance Compendium had been produced which indicated that productivity had been high across the Council.


Arising from discussions, the following points were made:


  1. There had been a reported increase in employees working at County Hall, particularly in requests for meeting rooms, which demonstrated that teams had been working collaboratively and some had been meeting in person. It was predicted that a consequence of the current increase in heating costs maybe that people choose to work in the office; there would be capacity to support this, although it would need to be managed within teams.


  1. The quality of service to the Council’s customers remained paramount and would always be a key consideration when designing and delivering services to ensure they were delivered in the most effective and efficient way. Feedback from customers was regularly collected and was built into future service planning.




That the report and the progress made towards the Council’s Ways of Working programme be noted.


Supporting documents: