Government property chief on the importance of ‘deciding what hybrid working is and isn't’
Mark Chivers considers the possible impact of new ways of working on government’s estates strategy
Government chief property officer Mark Chivers discusses a landmark year, and looks forward to another busy 12 months.
What has been your highlight of the last 12 months?
I’ve got to say publishing the new Government Property Strategy. I’m really proud of the work which went into creating it. People from all across government – from housing to health, defence to culture – took the time to share their expertise and create an ambitious, well-structured policy which will deliver efficiency and encourage economic growth.
I will also cheat the rules, and give two highlights. The second would be getting Place Pilots up and running to try and optimise the public sector estate in communities. Look out for more news on these as we move into 2023.
What was your most difficult decision in 2022?
Deciding what hybrid working is and isn't, and what the impact on the estate should be. Making sure we keep the benefits of collaborative working, while at the same time recognising the changes in culture brought about by the pandemic, has been a challenge and we’re still working through what it will mean for the workplace long-term.
What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation in 2023, and how are you preparing to meet it as an organisation?
I would say balancing the functional and central strategic property role with assuring the delivery of the portfolio transformations across departments and Arm’s-Length Bodies. We will be focusing on governance and support; putting in place strong capability development programmes at all levels of the Property Profession.
And personally, as a leader?
Moving into a new year and no longer being able to hide behind being new to the Civil Service! I will continue to create the connections and relationships we need to move the Government Property Strategy into delivery across the public estate.
It's not only Santa who has to work at Christmas. What is your best, worst or weirdest experience of working in the festive season?
I worked for many years for Boots. Every Christmas our head office staff were encouraged to go and support stores. I worked in the Cardiff Bay store on Pink Friday – the day the Soap and Glory 'Star Gift' came out. I watched chaos unfold as customers decided these gifts were too valuable to wait for, and instead proceeded to take them directly off the pallets before they even reached the shelves.
This meant I spent the afternoon on the phone to all the neighbouring stores trying to find more supply. It’s a brilliant retail example of giving customers products they loved at good value for money.
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