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Cabinet backs 'New Ways of Working' that will help protect the environment

A person working from home

21 September 2021

A person working from homeA new operating model, that could result in more than a thousand members of Powys County Council staff regularly working from home, has been approved by Cabinet.

Senior councillors were asked to back a 'New Ways of Working' plan, to build upon practices that have been successfully adopted during the pandemic, and allow staff to regularly home-work, or work from council offices or agreed partner facilities that are closer to their homes, so long as it does not affect the quality of council services.

The new operating model will also aim to cut the council's impact on the environment and help it achieve its aim of reducing its carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.

Powys County Council (PCC) staff are likely to fall into one of three workstyle categories in the future:

  • Place-based workers: Staff who are based at a particular location to fulfil their role, such as receptionists, library staff, and catering and cleaning staff.
  • On-the-go workers: Staff who are out and about in the community, directly delivering services, such as waste and recycling operatives, social care staff, and environmental health officers.
  • Flexible workers: Staff who can work flexibly from a variety of locations, including from home, such as legal staff, accounts staff, and housing officers.

Some staff may be asked to adopt more than one workstyle, depending on their role, and not all members of staff within the same service will necessarily be working in the same way.

Cllr Beverley Baynham, PCC's Portfolio Holder for Corporate Governance, said: "New Ways of Working will build on the success of the existing and new ways of service delivery which have developed throughout the pandemic, by giving staff the flexibility to work in an agile way and maximising the use of digital platforms for meetings and communication. The future emphasis will be on how work is done, and the outcomes achieved, rather than on where staff work.

"The transition aims to reduce travel, improve productivity, aid recruitment, enable many staff to enjoy an improved work-life balance, and make the council more efficient and cost effective."

The main drivers for the adoption of a new operating model are:

  • Good staff wellbeing, leading to high productivity, as evidenced by the staff surveys which have been undertaken since June 2020.
  • To aid the council's ability to recruit staff from the wider employment market by offering flexible working, where this supports service delivery. 
  • Reductions in CO2 emissions created by commuting and travelling for work, as part of the council's net zero carbon target.
  • Capturing the best practice of the pandemic period, rather than returning to 'old ways' of working.
  • A streamlining of the corporate property portfolio in the longer term.

Cllr Baynham added: "It is recognised that it will not be possible for some staff to work from home for a variety of valid reasons, including any concerns about the impact of this on their wellbeing, or that their home is not suitable for home working. In exploring how flexible working arrangements can best work with each employee, they will not be placed under any compulsion to work from home, rather agreement will be sought."  

Cabinet was asked to approve the implementation of the 'New Ways of Working' plan from October 2021 onwards, with each service moving to adopt it at a time that suits its needs and the needs of the Powys public.

An exercise carried out by the council, earlier this year, established that more than 1,300 employees could potentially continue to work from home on a regular basis, in line with the flexible workers workstyle.

The full report can be found here: https://powys.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s62111/NWOW%20Cabinet%20report%2021%20Sept%202021%20FINAL.pd

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