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Headline
Official launch of blended working
Date
Wed, 09 Mar 2022
Description

The council will formally launch blended working arrangements on 28 March.

Staff whose job roles are suitable for dividing their working time between office and remote locations will be able to do so as part of their agreed team protocols.

It follows the lifting of the Government's COVID-19 restrictions however services are being required to complete risk assessments of their accommodation before enabling more staff to attend offices.

Chief executive Caroline Lacey said: "The launch of blended working will be a huge landmark for the council as we move into the start of the 2022-23 financial year.

"We've consistently said we want to be a more modern organisation, with a modern workforce in a modern workplace. The formal implementation of blended working is a big part of that and will offer many staff more flexibility, autonomy and choice about how they work and achieve the results we expect of them.

"This should support staff wellbeing and work-life balance as well as productivity and the delivery of quality, value-for-money services for the people, businesses and communities we serve.

"It also helps the environment by reducing our carbon footprint and at the same time benefits the council's finances through a range of savings, for example through less business travel and lower energy usage and running costs of a smaller office estate.

"By taking a blended approach to office and remote working, we're offering the best of both worlds to our staff and this will help us to be an employer of choice when it comes to the recruitment of new employees and the retention of our valued colleagues."

Caroline said the adoption of blended working will be an evolving process as services, teams and individual staff adapt to the new arrangements.

"The team protocols provide a framework for determining how teams will work, collaborate and communicate. We expect them to be flexible, as teams should regularly assess how things are working and consider whether changes need to be made to ensure effective team operations and service delivery."

Agile transformation lead Nick Procter said: "In a survey last year, 90% of networked staff said they wanted blended working opportunities so it's brilliant to be able to deliver that aspiration and offer this flexible way of working to so many colleagues.

"We know there are many benefits of remote working and many advantages to office working. Likewise, we know individual staff have their own preferences and circumstances and that every team at the council is different. So this blended, balanced approach is all about offering people as much choice as possible while meeting the overall needs of their team and the needs of their service's customers.

"Aside from blended working, we also want to keep exploring opportunities for providing more flexibility for all staff, as it's important that the council becoming more agile offers benefits for the whole workforce.

"For example, location-dependent colleagues have been able to undertake some training remotely from their homes, which saves them having to travel to depots. That is more convenient for them and has environmental and financial benefits. There are also opportunities to further develop mobile working through our digital and agile business change."

Agile equipment

Wi-Fi mice and keyboards, noise-reducing headsets and bags are being distributed to staff to enable them to work from any location. Staff who completed an agile equipment questionnaire will receive an email with instructions about how to collect their equipment during March.

Agile accommodation review

An agile accommodation review has been considering the future office needs of services as they move to blended working arrangements.

New "neighbourhoods" of services will be established at County Hall, to support cross-service collaboration, with corporate resources services making up the organisation neighbourhood as part of phase 1 of the review.

The ground floors of B and C blocks are being reconfigured to form the organisation neighbourhood and the occupation of the neighbourhood is due to start from the end of March.

Phase 1 will also see the start of the development of other neighbourhoods, with revenues and procurement staff occupying a new-look space on the first floor of C block by mid-April.

The accommodation programme to develop customer and place neighbourhoods will continue at County Hall from April and May, with further office configurations and some further relocations, in liaison with services.

Agile hubs

Alongside the accommodation review of County Hall, a network of agile hubs is being established across the East Riding to support blended working.

The hubs will offer a range of facilities, workstations and meeting space, depending on their size, with a mix of desks available for any staff to use.

Two hubs will go live on 28 March - at Willerby Depot and the Hedon Centre - with two further hubs due to open at Bridlington Town Hall and Goole Council Offices in April. Further sites are also being considered elsewhere in the East Riding.

An easy-to-use booking system has been set up for the hubs and will also be available for services to use in their new workspaces at County Hall once their agile accommodation changes have been completed. The booking system will go live on 28 March.

Detailed information and user guidance about the agile hubs and the desk booking system will be available in the agile transformation section of the intranet later this month.

Supporting the council's agile ambitions

A wide range of other work is taking place to support the council's agile ambition for a modern workforce in a modern workplace.

The flexible parking permits scheme has been expanded and is now available for all staff following the removal of all eligibility criteria. That means more flexibility for staff who work part time or split their working week between the office and home. Staff can pay for single-use daily permits which can be used in a variety of long stay car parks on weekdays. Staff parking pass allocations are also being reviewed. More information about flexible permits and monthly permits is available at https://insight.eastriding.gov.uk/council-buildings-and-parking/staff-parking-permits/

A programme of modern leadership training has so far seen just under 600 managers across the council either attending or enrolling for sessions which provide practical guidance on leading and managing blended staff as well as helping to embed the values and behaviours we expect our leaders to model in a more agile future.

A review of County Hall's Wi-Fi provision is taking place, with the aim of extending and improving coverage, and there will be a new approach to catering at The Point with a micro market service offering a wide range of food and drink. That should be open by the summer but, in the meantime, The Point will continue to offer £1 coffee as part of the new "office experience" and the Treasure House café is open.

Further information

There is more information in the March edition of The Grapevine and in the agile transformation section of the intranet, where you can access a set of FAQs and links to the blended working policy, agile principles and a team protocol template.

There is a range of documents and guidance to support the service area risk assessments process for services bringing more staff into the workplace from 28 March. 

More information about the modern leadership training as well as display screen equipment training and other courses is available at https://insight.eastriding.gov.uk/learning-point/

Information about all the opportunities for flexible working at the council is available in the flexible working framework section of the intranet.

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