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Message from David Williams, Chief Executive

Dear colleagues

Whilst government guidance remains that you must work from home if possible, we are thinking and planning for the time when restrictions ease further. This is a great opportunity to modernise how we operate and meet the needs of our residents.

There’s a lot of knowns and unknowns but we can prepare now so that we can take the next steps when we are ready and able to do so.

What we don’t know

The position on moving to step four of the government’s roadmap and easing of restrictions on 21 June remains unclear, and won’t be confirmed until 14 June at the earliest.

There are many unknowns even when we do take step four. As examples, we don’t know whether social distancing will remain, and this would continue to reduce the capacity of our buildings, or whether the national work from home directive will remain or be relaxed.

Consequently, we don’t yet know what each service’s requirements will be, so we can’t plan precisely what the future will look like. However, we need to work out what furniture and equipment we are likely to need to better enable hybrid meetings and suchlike. We will be using principles agreed by teams to understand our requirements on a service by service basis.

What we do know

We do know that to a greater or lesser extent Covid will remain a risk to everyone, and health and safety will still need to be prioritised and managed.

We have supported you to work from home where this has possible, including through the provision of equipment. Where you continue to spend some of your time working from home, that equipment can remain at your home. Where you will spend part of your time in council buildings, work is underway to ensure that all workstations are appropriate, such as standard docking station connections and chairs.

We know from your feedback that you want to come into the workplace so that you can collaborate with colleagues, for learning and development, for relationship building, and to support each other and each other’s wellbeing. We also know that many of you have a preference for a combination of home and office working where this is operationally feasible. So in order to understand our future workplace capacity and office layout needs, we are asking teams to agree their principles.

We know that one size will not fit all – we deliver a diverse range of services so the principles will need to be adapted to best meet the needs of the service and our customers balanced with the needs of our staff.

Principles

Based on what we know and what you have told us, the directors and I have agreed some overarching principles to help guide us in our planning on how we will work in the future. They available to view below.

These put the customer at the heart of everything we do and will allow us to work flexibly. They should be applied consistently wherever possible across services but we recognise that the principles will need to be adapted for each team. So I have asked your managers to work with you and your teams to establish and agree how these should work in each area.  The principles that you agree will be fed into the overall plans for how we will work.

I recognise however that we won’t have all the answers to how we will work in the future immediately. The impact of the pandemic on how we work has been so significant that I suspect it will take many years to fully assess and understand the changes that have occurred.

I hope though that the overall principles we have developed and the principles that you agree in your team will help us take the next steps together, and make the most of the opportunity this presents. If you have questions or concerns about this, please speak to your manager or feel free email me directly at chief.executive@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

We will email you again early next week on arrangements when the government has provided an update on their roadmap on further easing of restrictions.

Thank you for your ongoing support and hard work.

Kind regards

David

 

 

Future Way of Working principles

Customers are at the heart of what we do, with the business needs of the council a priority.

These principles will be applied consistently wherever possible. The range of services that we offer and staff roles means in some cases they may need to be adapted.

  • Work takes place at the most effective locations and times
  • Flexibility becomes the norm and not the exception
  • Everyone is, in principle, considered eligible for flexible working, without assumptions being made about people or roles
  • Staff have more choice about where and when they work subject to business considerations
  • Space is allocated to activities not to individuals
  • The costs of doing work are reduced
  • There is effective and appropriate use of technology
  • Managing performance focuses on results rather than presence
  • Agile working underpins and adds new dimensions to diversity and equality principles
  • Staff have the opportunity to lead balanced and healthy lives
  • Work has less impact on the environment

Further advice and guidance

Managers have been asked to work with staff to establish and agree team principles.  The principles that you agree will be fed into the overall plans for how we will work. We have asked that this work is completed in June.

The approach to future ways of working has been shared with our trade unions and we are working together with them as we develop our approach.

If you have any questions about our approach to future ways of working, you should raise these with your manager.

Union representatives are also available to offer support and guidance.