Book News: April 4th, 2006

This report from the Society of IT Management says that the practice of flexible working, which includes working at convenient times (flexi-time), ‘hot-desking’, peripatetic working, and working from home, is growing fast in local authorities. The report estimates that at least 26,000 council employees are already formally established as home-based workers, and that this number is growing rapidly.The drivers for this change, says the report, are many. They include the potential to provide better services by taking them to customers’ homes using mobile technologies, to make savings through disposal of redundant office space, and to improve the quality of employees’ working lives by enabling flexible working that helps them to accommodate other roles as parents or carers. In congested areas flexible working also helps to avoid peak times for traveling to work.

Examples of benefits include improved appearance and safety of public areas by equipping staff and those of partner agencies with mobile devices in Castle Morpeth Borough Council and the transformation of the benefits service through mobile working in Test Valley Borough Council. Hertfordshire County Council has flexible working as part of its recruitment and retention strategy, and has also used it to rationalise the council’s property portfolio.

In addition to these and other case studies from outside the local authority sector such as British Airways, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Nat West Tower, the report describes the various forms of flexible working and highlights its impact upon peoples’ work and personal lives.

The report also describe the contribution of flexible working to the achievement of a supportive culture for business transformation and sets out the enabling technologies that are driving flexible working. Practical approaches to implementing a programme for flexible working are also set out in the report, which provides a self-assessment grid to allow councils to assess their degree of maturity on this issue, and sets out a generic business case that can be used to assess the costs and benefits of flexible working.

‘Insight Modern Public Services: Flexible Working’ is available from Socitm. Cost 90 pounds. http://www.socitm.gov.uk/