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Update on return to offices

14 September 2020

Since March this year we’ve had to continually adapt to changing situations and every one of you has been fundamental in enabling us to provide ongoing support to Derbyshire communities.


Throughout the coronavirus pandemic many of our frontline services have remained open to provide care and support where it is needed most. Thanks go to all those staff who have had to adapt to working in difficult situations or have taken on different roles to provide additional support.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been able to re-open a number of additional frontline services and that phased re-opening will continue in line with COVID-safe guidelines. If this affects you then your manager will keep you informed of any developments.

We also thank the large number of you who have had to quickly adapt to working from home and have embraced both the challenges and opportunities that this has provided. As an organisation we want to embrace the more flexible ways of working that have developed and to move towards a future where our buildings and office spaces are used efficiently and colleagues have the opportunity to work in a range of locations that best suit the needs of our communities, our organisation and our people.

Many of you suggested in our recent staff survey that you would like to work at home for several days each week. Alongside this, we recognise that there will be times when you need to meet your team or your manager in person, to work collaboratively with colleagues or to have the social interaction that can be missing when working at home.

As such we can now confirm that where you are able to do so and your manager agrees, you should continue to work from home until the end of January 2021 but with the opportunity to book meeting and touchdown spaces. This will give us the opportunity to manage any risk that increased presence in offices could have on infection rates over the Autumn and to further support the wellbeing of our colleagues.

The spaces we will make available will be located at council properties around the county, enabling you to book spaces that might reduce your travel time and will allow you to get to know Derbyshire communities outside of your usual office location. As you can imagine, there is significant work for our teams to do to identify and prepare suitable spaces and details of those spaces including locations, how to book, capacity and what the spaces can be used for, will be made available as soon as they are in place and all locations will apply full COVID-safe guidelines. We have been unable to offer use of these spaces until now as the focus has been on ensuring our frontline services are operating safely.

Between now and January we’ll be progressing a number of workstreams that will support the development of a longer-term approach to the way we work and the way we use our resources.

As part of our Enterprising Council approach, we’ll soon be launching our Modern Ways of Working project. This will be led by colleagues from across the council who will look at ways that we can continue to embrace the use of new technology and develop a more flexible and agile workforce.

Our Property team is also taking a strategic approach to reviewing the council’s estate including the use of all our office spaces.

We are also considering the Climate Change agenda in developing our longer-term approach to ways of working given the potential to reduce council emissions through changes to the way we use our buildings and reductions in mileage.

This approach to the use of workspaces will be kept under constant review and adapted as guidance changes over the coming months. We will keep you up to date as the above work progresses and how we might develop our approach: it may be that we continue with more remote working past January. Further guidance on working from home is being developed and will be shared over the coming weeks.

We will continue to support the wellbeing of all colleagues regardless of your working location so please speak to your line manager if you need some additional support and remember that there is a range of wellbeing advice and information available.

Now is the time to build on the strength we’ve shown and our desire to try new solutions as we move forward as an enterprising and dynamic council.

Emma Alexander, Executive Director for Commissioning, Communities and Policy

Helen Jones, Executive Director for Adult Social Care and Health

Jane Parfrement, Executive Director for Children’s Services