To receive an update from the Director of Resources about the Council’s Future Working programme.
Those in attendance for this item:
· Cllr Coupar (Executive Member)
· Neil Evans (Director, Resources)
· Graham Sephton (Head of Human Resources)
· Angela Barnicle (Chief Officer, Asset management & Regeneration)
· Leonardo Tantari (Chief Officer, Digital and Information Services)
Graham Sephton introduced the paper by providing an update on the Council’s Future Working Programme. He noted the previous work of the Scrutiny Board in this area and reiterated the importance of the 2021 Best Place to Work Pledge. Graham highlighted the most recent staff survey results from May 2022 and the proposed approach to further estate realisation.
The Scrutiny Board explored the proposed approach to future hybrid working and noted the links to the previous discussion on the new digital strategy.
Members agreed with the principal that hybrid working arrangements must strike a balance between staff preferences, services needs and LCC resources. Members were informed that senior leaders have reported service performance as having been maintained or enhanced by current working arrangements.
The Board discussed the expectation that staff will spend regular time with their teams in the office. Reassurance was received in relation to arrangements for new employees and it was a confirmed that staff will always be able to come into the workplace if they so wish.
Other matters raised by members included:
- Quality and maintenance of estate: The cost of maintaining the Council’s estate was discussed in the context of the current budget challenge. It was noted that the not all buildings provide good quality accommodation for staff, and many are now surplus to requirements. Graham outlined the ambition to have fewer but better used buildings. It was noted that buildings that are disposed of are typically redeveloped for a different purpose.
- Monitoring of the impact of hybrid working: It was confirmed that performance reports are regularly provided to CLT, the Executive Board and Scrutiny Boards. In addition, risks are reported to officer oversight groups that meet regularly.
- Workstation Assessments: Graham reassured members that where requests were made for a home-based workstation assessment, these would be carried out quickly. He noted that most employees who had been previously office based, received rapid support in response to the pandemic to enable them to work safely at home. Well-being has been prioritised during the most recent rounds of appraisals.
- Market appropriate approach: Neil Evans highlighted that the Council is not alone in having adopted new working arrangements since the pandemic. It informed members that organisations across the city and country are working in different ways and LCC staff are keen to retain the flexibility to work from home given performance has been maintained.
- Independent analysis: Angela Barnicle outlined the Council’s involvement with a UKRI project being led by the University of Leeds. Along with other public and private organisations the Council us sharing data about what hybrid work looks like, how people build networks and establish careers. It was agreed that the first paper that has been published would be shared with the Scrutiny Board.
- Identification of risks: Members highlighted the importance of being provided with clear information about the potential risks to inform their scrutiny. Ways in which to capture the views of service users within performance monitoring were discussed.
- EIA report: Members requested sight of the Equality Impact Assessment associated with future working arrangements once it is available.
Members of the Scrutiny board resolved to:
- Note the contents of this report
- Note the Best Place to Work pledge made to all staff.
- Consider the results from the most recent Future Working Survey conducted in May 2022
- Note the latest update on rightsizing the council Estate and how the Future Working programme can contribute to our zero carbon ambitions across the city.
- Request that the Chief Officer for Asset Management and Regeneration shares the initial UKRI research paper published by the University of Leeds.
- Request sight of the Equality Impact Assessment associated with future working arrangements once it is available.
Councillor Flynn left the meeting after consideration of this item.