Agenda item

Scrutiny Inquiry into Agile Working and Estate Realisation following the Covid-19 Pandemic - summary of evidence to-date

To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services on how the Council has developed new ways of working and is looking at estate rationalisation and realisation in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The report provides a summary of evidence received to date and looks to move towards developing some initial inquiry recommendations for agreement early in the next municipal year.


The report of the Head of Democratic Services provided a summary of evidence received to date on the Board’s inquiry into agile working, developing new ways of working and estate realisation. It looked at the future areas of interest in terms of this developing work stream.


It attendance at the meeting for this item were:

·  Cllr. James Lewis – Deputy Leader of Council and Executive Member

for Resources

·  Neil Evans – Director of Resources and Housing

·  Mark Mills – Asset Management

·  Graham Sephton – Head of HR, Resources and Housing


Members of the Board were informed of the following points:

  • Appendix 1 provided the initial thoughts on this evolving agenda;
  • Planning for a return to work for some staff, a number of surveys are to be sent out which will take account of how staff are feeling currently. It was recognised that over the past 12 months, staff opinions have changed on how they worked in the past, are working currently and the new arrangements going forward;
  • The survey will be sent to all 8,000 staff in late March or April, and will look at gathering information on new arrangements as the Council goes forward and how to balance that with good service provision. In May it is hoped that findings from the survey will be able to be shared and  form part of the new arrangements, with a view to return to work from June;
  • The utilisation of the buildings that the council use will change. The estate will have buildings located within the City and also in district centres.
  • The core buildings will deliver more collaborative spaces for team working with a change in layouts to address a flexible approach to office and home working. Working on Hybrid meetings is ongoing with staff in DIS and this will require a change in protocols and training.


Member’s discussions and responses to questions from the Board included:

  • Support to staff at all levels during this period;
  • Service level response times;
  • Flexible working hours and any impact on council services. It was noted that the survey and a toolkit would address wellbeing support, measures for service delivery and standards.
  • Costs in relation to ICT. It was recognised that there had been a one off cost to enable people to work from home at the start of the first lockdown, and that where possible recycled kit had been used and will be used moving forward;
  • A trade Union working group was looking at policy changes, contracts, funding arrangements in relation to job descriptions and roles as new working arrangements evolve;
  • It was recognised that there was still work to be done on achieving a better balance for home and work and managing expectations carefully;
  • Some of the buildings to be utilised would require investment to make them sustainable. The change in how we work will also present opportunities to look at accommodation such as leisure centres and community centres and how space within these could be used differently for office space or touch down space. Opportunities may also arise for shared spaces in community hubs with partner organisations;
  • Members were keen to ensure that the views of staff are taken into account in relation to travel, and to consider if staff would prefer city centre locations or community based locations. It was noted that this would form part of the staff survey.


RESOLVED – To note the content of the report and pass over to the successor Board for further work in early in the next municipal year.


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