Friday, 25 November 2011

Flexible working, and a wireless rip off scandal......

Yesterday I went to conference on New Ways of Working. I was quite excited when I saw it advertised, as it was specifically for senior managers in HR, IT and Estates to attend together and look at how by working together we can improve ways of working. What a great idea I thought – those are exactly the three departments which could facilitate flexible working, by changing the way we design working spaces, by utilising technology, and by implementing flexible HR policies.  We sent a representative from each of the departments, and although we got quite a lot out of the day, most came from us talking together and bouncing ideas off each other, rather than the conference. Apart from the opening plenary session, the rest of the day were track sessions, which tended to focus on HR, IT or Space, so there was little opportunity for joint discussion.  My other big bugbear, was that this was advertised as a conference for the public sector, but it was assumed by almost every presenter, that public sector meant local authority – I don’t think education was mentioned once.

And now for the biggest outrage of all (fanfare……)
At a conference where we were looking at new ways to use IT, the only wireless network available cost £10 an hour (yes, that’s right), or £95 if you wanted it for the whole day. What sort of a rip off is that??  Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, (and the organizers of the conference) – you should be ashamed of yourselves!

I'll give you some key points from the sessions I went to. First the plenary session – some random jottings from the 4 presenters:

  • Innovative use of IT means that we can connect without travel, reducing the impact on the environment.
  • Devolving power to lowest level, whether customers or employees, will produce a better fitted organisation to deliver good public services.
  • People focused buildings save costs and encourages a more flexible workforce and improves work life balance.
  • During the London Olympics lots of people will need to travel, so 50% of civil servant will work from home to relieve pressure on transport networks.
  • IT is an enabler, not a solution. To get real transformation you have to deal with people, processes and technology.
  •  Highly adaptable and multifunctional spaces in buildings mean that you may not have a personal space, but your team does.
  • Look at roles. No point of hot desking if your job is to come in and sit at a desk. 
  • With flexible working you need to monitor and manage performance, not attendance.
  • We often assume that change means moving from one period of stability to another different period of stability. This isn’t the case anymore.
  • We’re in a state of constant change now, and It’s going to continue, no matter what happens politically. Organisations need to be able to respond to that change.
  • Apparently most leaders are men. I joke not, that’s what he said.
  • Biggest disciplinary issue in Public Sector at the moment is use of social media. That’s me done for then.
  • Most young people have better and more technology in their coats when they come to work than what they are given to work with.
  • Rapid user led development needs to be encouraged, but it’s not being. There is huge talent out there but most of the Public Sector is frightened by it.
  • Good leaders are people focused. Outstanding leaders don't see a distinction between doing work and working with people. (did I mention that most leaders are men?)
  • Energy costs will continue to rise, carbon reduction will not go away. We need to look at the way we use space.
  • Hampshire council for every 3 employees have 2 desks.
  • Mobility is the norm now and we need to embrace it. Moving form a model of cellular space, to open plan, to communal space working, to breaking the link between the workstation and individual. Finally, getting to a model of a full non territorial environment. Staff work in the setting most suitable to the activity they are carrying out.
  • Work is an activity, not a place. 
I'll post something from the rest of the sessions later - think that's enough to be going on with for now!


Dave Berry said...

Did the conference report any assessment of how members of staff regard hotdesking, not having a space to call their own, etc? Does this increase morale because people feel empowered, or decrease morale because they feel they have less security?

Are there any measurements of how this affects people's work output?

Andy Ward said...

very interesting and I like the combination of People/Space and Technology (HR, Estates and IT). We are arranging some sessions between us (HMRC and DWP), and internally too so will borrow some of this if you dont mind. We are doing some work with Cornwall Council under the Superfast Broadband roll out. I'll share some of our thinking as we shape it. Find me on Linkedin if your interested.