Government begins to "rightsize"​ its estate

Written by BT on 17 September 2018 in Sponsored Article
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BT's Simon Godfrey on how government is fundamentally rethinking its strategy for both people and places

All of us a patently aware that the coffers of Government are under severe pressure, the dialogue about doing more with less, or about simply doing less, is ever present. Suppliers, large and small, from facilities management to large scale complex services, including BT, are feeling the pressure not simply to do things less expensively whilst still delivering value, but to really rethink how it is we work with Government.

This Government is rethinking how it works, where it best places its ever scarcer resources and what a future operating model should look like. Clearly the role of mobile and flexible working are an important component of this, but so also is the physical infrastructure of where people actually do their work. To that end, Govenrment has set about rethinking its strategy for both its estates and for its people, from this the “Smarter Working” initiative was born.

It’s something that has grown in visibility across Government over the last two years but particularly this year its importance and senior level sponsorship has risen to another level. Due to this, and the burning platform of “money” at this year’s Civil Service Live Conference (the premier UK event for Civil Servants), the subject was discussed at a roundtable attended by BT and by the leaders on this topic from across Govenrment.

The conversation centred on what it means to be smart and changes personally, managerially and culturally needed to make the whole thing work to deliver real value across the board. Attendees recognised that there’s a constant pressure to be present at their office desk, ready to jump into action when a minister calls, but that this type of reactive way of working is not capable of delivering real lasting change. Things have to be done differently.

HMRC are leaders in moving their staff away from a multi-location environment to a series of hubs strategically located in key areas. This means reducing an estate from many hundreds of places to less than 20. The programme is significant in scope and scale and for the more than 40,000 staff, change is now the "new normal". Many are embracing the change, though as you’d expect, some will naturally be resistant, perhaps born out of tenure of service and familiarity in ways of working, or perhaps simply for logistically reasons such as family and friends, and not wishing to move work too far from home. All very normal reactions. HMRC are the test bed for much change that’s coming down the tracks.

When it came to Civil Service Live London roundtables, BT participated to ensure that all of the change that we've been through and continues to go through, along with our recent announcements of “rightsizing” our own organisation, provides lessons to Government. Equally importantly we want to help to inform Govenrment on what it means to be a “modern” adaptive organisation, how and where technologies could be used, how to design and deliver modern infrastructures and leverage all the benefits of converged communications, so that ultimately the citizens of the UK benefit from better public services.

Simon Godfrey is Government Futurist at BT Business & Public Sector

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