Organisational Development Update (verbal)
The Assistant Director (Human Resources, Legal & Democratic) provided a presentation to the Panel, which outlined the work being undertaken on the roadmap on returning back to the office (#Work is an activity I do, rather than a place I go).
It was anticipated that by 21 June 2021, COVID safe working practices would be revised in terms of the restrictions on social distancing and the impact on safe working practices in offices. This would mean that the office-based staff could transition from the current home working requirement to new agile ways of working. However, whilst planning for staff being able to return to offices in June 2021, this would be under review in accordance with the Government’s timeframe for moving out of lockdown.
It was explained to the Panel about working differently in the future. It seemed that staff were looking for the following from their working environment:
- A hybrid working approach between home and office
- Ensuring the office provided social interaction and collaborative space
- A working environment that supported wellbeing and mental health
Home working would continue to be an important part of how the Council worked in the future. An agile working framework would be developed, along with ensuring the supporting of health and safety and data protection aspects of longer-term home working. The guidance would be reviewed as the roadmap was developed for future ways of working. There would be no fixed approach for how staff managed the balance between working at home and coming into the office. This would be left to the individuals and their managers to determine.
With regards to the redesigning of the desk space at West Suffolk House, there were plans to reduce the number of fixed desks available for staff. With the removal of these desks, there would be the opportunity for the creation of a flexible, collaborative working space for teams to utilise. Members would also be able to use these desks and participate in the collaborative working spaces.
The Panel also discussed the ability of continuing to hold virtual meetings, as the legislation was only in place until 6 May 2021. A Legal Challenge had been lodged with the High Court. However, if this legislation was not extended beyond this date, then plans would have to be formulated to the holding of Committee/Council meetings, in person, in a COVID safe environment.
With there being no decision required, the Panel noted the presentation.