LOCAL GOVERNMENT MOVING SLOWLY TO MOBILE AND FLEXIBLE WORKING
Local authorities are in the early stages of making fundamental changes in the way they run public services by adopting mobile technology. This is the conclusion of a report from the Mobile Data Association following an extensive survey of local councils. Some 15% of authorities are equipping their staff with laptop computers, personal digital assistants and smart phones. As a result, benefits officers are now processing claims and social care workers assessing needs in people’s homes. Building and health inspectors are completing inspections on the spot, rather than having to return to base.
The survey revealed that 85% of local authorities had some mobile working project under way. This is made up of 25% at the planning stage, 46% piloting and 15% implementing. 13% have no mobile working plans.
Almost 10% of authorities have implemented flexible working projects involving the use of technology to give flexibility in working hours and location of work. A further 45 % are at the pilot stage. Barriers to extending flexible working include the difficulty of managing people at a distance and a potentially negative effect on team spirit.
Responses to the survey also raised concerns about the risk of projects failing to deliver the expected results. Only 1% of respondents said they would seek assistance from commercial expert organizations in designing their systems. Virtually all private sector organizations do seek assistance. In addition only 50% of respondents said they would involve end users when planning a mobile working project.