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Response to your requests for support

9 November 2020

As part of the recent Our Spirit team briefing you had in your teams, we asked you to identify three improvements that your team needed support from the organisation to deliver. 

In the recently published team briefing results, we confirmed that the top 3 were:

  1. More communication including being kept well informed with timely updates on key issues, having visible senior leaders and improved communication between departments and with partners. This also included clarity over future ways of working.
  2. Flexible working options to continue to be available, but with appropriate enablers in terms of office and ICT equipment.
  3. Health, safety and wellbeing support, including providing safe working environments that are clean and with adequate PPE and safety guidance, as well as easily accessible wellbeing support.

In response to these asks, our corporate management team alongside the leads from HR, finance, ICT, property and communications have provided an update on work that is currently underway in each of those areas.

1. Communication

We will continue to share information with you through the Our Derbyshire newsletter which we issue on a regular basis. All those news stories are also included in the news and updates section of the Our Derbyshire website so you can look back at previous articles.

We hope that you’ve found the regular blogs from our Executive Directors useful and we’ll continue to publish these in the Our Derbyshire newsletter and on the website. We’re also exploring ways for our Executive Directors to hold events with small and large groups of colleagues in order to discuss key issues and provide regular updates.

We’ll also be looking at ways to improve communication between departments and build on the success of the joint working that we’ve seen throughout the pandemic.

Future ways of working

In an update on 14 September we clarified that where possible, you should continue to work from home until at least the end of January 2021. Plans to open up some meeting and workspaces to support collaborative working and wellbeing are still in progress, however, due to the changing situation in relation to coronavirus guidance from the Government, we don’t yet know when this will be possible. Any workspaces that are reopened will have a COVID-19 secure risk assessment and necessary systems in place to ensure all workplaces are safe.

Unfortunately, we are unable to contribute towards any additional energy costs incurred by working from home but please remember that you can claim tax relief for working from home

Our Modern Ways of Working project attracted over 170 volunteers who will soon be starting work on reviewing the current approach to the way we work, identifying the potential for change and developing proposals for improvement. We’ll keep you informed as the project progresses.

Our rollout of Microsoft 365 tools will continue to improve the way you communicate and collaborate with others, regardless of where you’re working. We now have over 600 digital champions helping others to learn more about using Microsoft 365 and we have given everyone access to self-help training material through the Microsoft 365 learning centre. Having already trained around 1500 colleagues, our ongoing training plan for current employees and new starters is now being reviewed by the learning and development team.

We are also exploring how additional features such as Teams Telephony and electronic signatures can support flexible and more efficient working in the future. 

2. Flexible working options

Most of those who took part in team briefings would like to see a continuation of the flexible working arrangements that were introduced in response to the pandemic.

Alongside the Modern Ways of Working project, HR have begun developing a smarter working policy to reflect our commitment to supporting working from home in the longer term.

We can also confirm that the current flexi-time arrangements will be extended for another six months. This means that, with the agreement of your manager, you can work between the hours of 6am and 10pm in order to balance your work and personal commitments.

We appreciate that some of you, including those who work shifts or in frontline services, may not have the option to use the flexi-time scheme. Please speak to your manager if you feel you need support with maintaining a positive work-life balance.

Office and ICT equipment

In the short term, the business centre is still able to offer support if you need your office equipment such as chairs and monitors delivering to your home. Please contact to discuss what you need. The longer-term approach to providing office equipment will be reviewed by the Modern Ways of Working project group.

3. Health, safety and wellbeing support


We have developed detailed guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) and who requires it.

Your line manager can order supplies through the PPE Hub to ensure that the right equipment goes to the right people. Please make sure you let your manager know if you need additional equipment.


You have access to a wide range of wellbeing information and support and our wellbeing delivery group has been set up to continually review how this is used and make improvements.

The support available includes over 30 trained mental health first aiders and in-house counsellors who can be contacted by emailing or calling 01629 536969.

In April we signed up to an employee assistance programme and we can now confirm that access to this has been extended for a further six months. The programme offers free, confidential emotional and practical support for a wide range of issues.

The Thrive: mental wellbeing app is another useful resource for support with the prevention, screening and management of anxiety, depression and stress. We encourage you to download the app if you haven’t already done so.

Next steps

We’re going to start running regular, short surveys every three months to gather your feedback and better understand how you’re working and how you’re feeling. We really appreciate you taking the time to complete these surveys which are a vital way of us involving you in decisions that are made about the future.