To receive a further update report on the Board’s ongoing work looking at agile working, developing new ways of working and estate realisation. This report from the Director of City Development provides an update following consideration of matters related to the Council’s estate in February and also provides a further update on staff satisfaction following a request from Board members at the September meeting.
The report from the Director of City Development provided a further update on the Board’s ongoing work looking at agile working, developing new ways of working and estate realisation as well as employee wellbeing.
In attendance for this item were:
· Cllr Debra Coupar – Executive Member for Resources
· Mark Mills – Head of Asset Management
· Graham Sephton – Head of HR
The Board were informed of the following points:
· The pandemic had accelerated service change to a more digital focus, with staff forced to work from home, more hybrid approaches to working arrangements and service delivery.
· Work on estate realisation has been ongoing for 5 years. The Council has reduced its estate in the city centre from 17 buildings to 3. The Council’s buildings currently have front facing services and the aim is to make the customer experience better and easier.
· Feedback from the staff survey shows that staff are supportive of the new ways of working including the flexibility to work from home and the way workspace has been set out. The way in which the Council works has been changed through engagement with staff, trade unions and Members.
· 4 employee wellbeing surveys have been undertaken with results for the latest undertaken in August 2021, within the submitted report. It was noted that since the survey of October 2020 there had been some improvement in how staff were feeling. Support has been offered to staff who need it.
Cllr Coupar advised the Board that work on the estate was still ongoing and had been for many years this was not as an impact of the pandemic. The changing the workplace programme had recognised improvements in digital working and this has been progressed. Much of the Council’s estate is ageing and in need of refurbishment to bring it up to date and to ensure that it has the best carbon footprint that it can. Cllr Coupar reassured the Board that there would be consultation on any proposals.
In response to questions from the Members the Board were provided with the following information:
· Consideration would be given to converting buildings to housing. The Housing Growth Team are provided with those buildings which are to be put up for sale or lease to assess potential for housing.
· Any listed buildings which are to be sold would be done only in consultation with the community and local ward members. The Council has a large number of heritage buildings and recognises that it is not always the best custodian of such buildings. It does not wish to see some of these buildings left to become derelict and decayed. Appropriate consideration is given to heritage buildings some taking years for a decision to be made.
· Community Asset Transfers are considered with Bramley Baths and Yeadon Town Hall a demonstration of where this has been successful.
· It was recognised that Community Hubs have been a valuable resource for staff to work instead of working from home or travelling into the city centre. They have also provided a valuable service to people in the community.
· Members suggested that work in relation to heating buildings whilst ensuring they are properly ventilated should take place especially in buildings used regularly by residents, such as libraries.
· It was noted that IDS are due to attend the Board in February 2022, in relation to agile working.
· It was noted that a third of staff had responded to the staff survey. Responses had been received from staff working in front line services and staff working from home. It was not possible to say if it was the same staff responding on all the surveys.
· It was acknowledged that some buildings where staff are employed had not seen the same level of consideration in relation to the workspace such as depots.
· It was recognised that the estates management systems were not consistent. Work was ongoing with IDS to have one single system which allows real time data.
Councillor Flynn expressed his disappointment that IDS were not at the meeting as he had a few questions he wished to put to them both from an agile working perspective and from a personal perspective. It had been noted that IDS would be attending Scrutiny Board in February 2022.
The Board suggested that base data was required from the directorates in relation to service delivery. They wished to know about impact on service, the quality of service, purpose of the buildings. It was the view that service delivery data needs to be considered in relation to the experience of customers and residents.
RESOLVED - To:
a) Note the content of the report
b) Consider and provide comment on the work to date and future estate realisation opportunities.