Agenda item

Report of the Scrutiny Task and Finish Group on the Council's Corporate Ways of Working Programme

Mr L. Phillimore CC, Chairman of the Task and Finish Group, will attend to present the report.



The Commission considered a report of the Scrutiny Task and Finish Group on the Council’s Corporate Ways of Working Programme.  A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 8’ is filed with these minutes.


The Chairman welcomed Mr L. Phillimore CC, the Chairman of the Task and Finish Group, to the meeting.  In presenting the report Mr Phillimore highlighted that:


·       The Programme would see a significant shift in how the Council operated. The Group had been keen to understand the impact of this on staff and how they might engage both with each other to ensure a coordinated and joined up approach, but also with residents and service users and elected members. 

·       As the report made clear, the Group chose to focus on the People element of the Programme, it being of the view that the workplace and technology elements would flow from that in time as the Programme was rolled out. 

·       Whilst the financial savings identified were important, the key benefits of adopting a hybrid working approach were seen as being much wider than that and the Group had felt strongly that if the People element of the Programme was not delivered well, irrespective of the savings, the Authority, it’s staff and service users, could be negatively affected.

·       The Group had put forward a number of challenges and identified some key risks.  However, officers were able to offer significant reassurance on many issues.  The Chairman, on behalf of the Group, thanked officers for the excellent work that had gone into the preparation of the Programme.


Arising from discussion, the following points were noted:


(i)              Members welcomed the report which was comprehensive and demonstrated the in-depth challenge provided by the Group and which had drawn out some useful recommendations.  The Commission thanked the Group for its work and that of officers in preparing what was a well considered Programme.

(ii)             It was recognised that hybrid working would provide great flexibility which would benefit both the organisation in addressing issues such as the recruitment and retention of staff, and officers who could perhaps adapt their working arrangements to provide for a better work/life balance.

(iii)           It was recognised that service needs would be the first priority for all sections, but that discussions with managers would ensure that where appropriate, flexibility was provided.

(iv)           The need for a whole Council approach was recognised and sense checking all communications would be essential to ensure the Programme did not become campus centric.  It would be important for all staff be kept information and involved in the process.


(v)            Key issues around socialisation amongst staff and the potential impact on health and wellbeing had been considered by the Group and the Commission was assured of the level of communication and guidance provided to staff to encourage new ways for people to come together.  It was acknowledged that this was the start of a long process and teams would adapt as best suited them and their service area. 

(vi)           The exercise had emphasised the critical role of managers, both in the successful delivery of the Programme, but also in the future management of a hybrid workforce.  The Chairman of the Task and Finish Group confirmed that it had been confident that officers were well aware of the need to support managers through this process, but that it had made recommendations to help strengthen the proposed approach in some areas e.g. encouraging the use of Annual Performance Reviews to ask softer questions and in tracking delivery of the Programme.

Mr Breckon CC, on behalf of the Lead Member for Covid Recovery and Ways of Working, Mr Peter Bedford CC, reported that Mr Bedford welcomed the report, the work of the Group and its recommendations.




That the recommendations of the Scrutiny Task and Finish Group on the Council’s Corporate Ways of Working Programme be welcomed and forwarded to the Lead Member for Covid Recovery and Ways of Working and the Director of Corporate Resources for consideration.


Supporting documents: