Realising the ‘Modern Workplace’ for the Public Sector
Microsoft explores how the government is well-positioned to embrace a more flexible approach to governing
As we enter 2016, the public sector faces a number of key challenges that will affect staff at all levels of operation. As austerity measures continue to place pressure on departments to reduce day to day costs, a key consideration must be on the sustainability of such reductions.
While for many the quick route to cost savings is cuts – to budgets, to staff and to services – this can only yield a temporary element of relief to the overall balance sheet. So how can departments meet budget reduction plans at the same time as delivering services at the level expected by citizens? And how can public sector organisations ensure staff are productive?
One way is to use technology to work smarter. And with more digital solutions to hand, the government now has the opportunity to embrace a more flexible approach to governing.
Ensuring greater flexibility and digital agility in the civil service through smarter working has been on the government’s agenda since the introduction of the 2012 Civil Service Reform Plan, which set out a number of key transformation needs to ensure the civil service performed faster and more efficiently for less.
As part of this continuing transformation, government departments are beginning to explore how technology can help foster a more flexible and innovative environment that reflects the government’s Digital by Default Agenda. Fostering a working environment that enables staff to work remotely – as well as via a number of different devices – not only reduces cost, but creates a modern workplace that gets the most from its workers.
This is key to the Cabinet Office’s The Way We Work Programme (TW3), which focuses on encouraging new behaviours and changing attitudes towards technology and the traditional office environment to create a more modern civil service.
Returning as a judge for this year’s TW3 Awards – an award ceremony that seeks to celebrate examples of smarter working in the civil service – was Microsoft’s Chief Envisioning Officer, Dave Coplin who during last year’s awards stressed the importance of ensuring that all those not in the room are supported on their smart-working journeys.
Is smarter working a game changer?
The complexities of modern day life are such that professional and personal demands are made of everyone in a way that is often not conducive to spending the hours of 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday, in an office or the conventional place of work. By the same token, people are not necessarily at their most productive while in a potentially noisy, distracting environment, therefore a balance must be found that allows workers to accomplish their tasks in a timely manner that neither impedes nor compromises the ability of their colleagues or broader organisation to succeed in their objectives.
In our recent eGuide, Business Anywhere: The Ultimate Guide to Flexible Working, Coplin said: “Flexible working is about being able to make a choice, on any given day, about the most appropriate location for the work you’re about to do.”
He added: “Employers need to understand that flexible working is fundamental to the workplace today.”
So if we acknowledge the need for management to allow for flexibility over when and where work is done, how does this work in practicality, and what is needed to empower the public sector to work together from disparate locations and at different times?
At the centre of smarter digital working is the need to access, interpret, modify, share and act upon information – wherever a worker may be. For that to happen, organisations need technology – both the devices, and an underlying infrastructure – that empowers them to work without barriers, and to collaborate with colleagues and customers, whether working remotely, in an office, or while on the move.
In a second article on smarter working in the civil service we will take closer look at some of these tools and platforms, exploring examples of how organisations can utilise technologies – all currently in use across other verticals – to empower their workers to achieve more both individually and collectively.
For now, we’d encourage you to download and read the eGuide Business Anywhere: The ultimate guide to flexible working, to further your understand of smarter working.
Download the eGuide: ‘Business Anywhere: The ultimate guide to flexible working’
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