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Modern ways of working - frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions on our modern ways of working programme and the reopening of new workspace zones at County Hall.


Planning our new spaces

How has office space been allocated to different teams?

Office space has been allocated according to information provided by managers of the service departments.

Will all teams have a team zone?

We have worked with service departments to determine accommodation needs and all those identified as requiring one have been allocated a team zone.

Will storage space be available for those teams who need to store resources or equipment?

Working with departments we have allocated accessible storage where required.

How many desks will there be in the new spaces?

Please see the floor plans to see how many desks are available in each room.

Where will our new space at County Hall be?

Please see the County Hall floor plans for detail of team and shared zone locations.

When do you envisage the clear space phase will be completed throughout the county?

We will be sharing details of the plans for the wider council estate in the new year.

What's happening with previous hot desks in day centres?

As we roll out the clear space activities around the county we will begin to assess what spaces can be used as shared spaces.

Will very senior managers still have their own offices or will they be expected to share?

Directors and senior managers have been included in the space planning and reduction of space.

Ways of working

Who decides whether we need to be in the office or if we can work from another location?

The way you and your team will work will involve balancing the delivery of high-quality services for our residents and communities with greater flexibility for employees. Please speak to your manager and team to share your views on how you think the service can be delivered so you can agree the most effective way of working.

Will there be a rota for working in the office?

This will depend on the requirements of the service, the team and shared space available and how the employees would like to work. Please speak to your manager to discuss how this will work for your team.

Can managers insist that we return to the office?

It is reasonable for managers to ask employees to come into the office and you should have a conversation with your manager about how your service can best be delivered for residents.

The employee survey that showed high levels of support for homeworking was relatively early on in the pandemic. Will there be another survey?

There are currently no plans to do another survey on this topic, however we continue to engage with members of the Modern Ways of Working cohort to seek their views on the approach as the programme continues. If you would like to get involved please email modernwaysofworking@derbyshire.gov.uk. Regular staff surveys do take place as part of our normal business and will be one way of monitoring the impact of new ways of working.

How should work bases be stipulated in job adverts and at interview?

This is being considered by the corporate management team as part of the future vision of how we will work. If you're in doubt whilst planning recruitment activities, please speak to HR colleagues.

Will individual employment contracts need to be changed to reflect flexible working arrangements?

We are working to develop the employee profiles we need and in addition the terms and conditions to support these. It is not clear at the moment whether changes to employment contracts will be required however we will continue to liaise with trade union representatives as we develop this approach.

What hours of the day will we be able to work between?

For employees on the flexi-time scheme there are temporary arrangements in place to extend the bandwidths to 6am to 10pm Monday to Sunday. This is in accordance with the needs of the service. This will be reviewed in line with the employee profiles being developed however the underlying principle is that our focus is on delivering high quality services.

Using new team, shared and facilities zones

How do I find the shared spaces?

You can identify these by looking for the orange coloured rooms on the floor plans. When in the building you will also notice that shared zone areas have orange signage on the doors. Please remember that shared meeting rooms use an online booking system

How will I know if the room I want to use is full?

If the room is in a team zone then the relevant managers should develop a local approach to co-ordinating the use of desks in that area. This could be a shared calendar for example.

Share zones are not bookable but if any space is already at capacity when you go to sign in then the system will let you know. Please plan ahead by identifying a number of room numbers that you could use if your first choice is full.

Can the community hubs be used by those not based at County Hall?

Yes, community hubs are assigned to departments so you can use the hub for the department you work in. You can also use any of the shared and facilities zones.

Will lift access from the terrace at County Hall be available?

Yes, the lift is now fully operational.

Where can we securely store personal items? Will lockers be provided?

Lockers will be provided in the community hub areas. These are day use lockers only and should not be used to store things overnight. You can use these to store belongings while in meetings, out for lunch or out on site visits for example. Please leave the keys in the locker doors when not in use.

Can I store my laptop overnight if I’m working consecutive days in County Hall?

For business continuity reasons you should take your laptop home each night. This means that you’ll be able to carry on working if you are suddenly unable to get to the office, for example, in the event of bad weather, self-isolation or a car breakdown.

Where do we get stationery from if we don’t have a team zone?

Anyone can collect stationery from any of the print and recycling hubs. We are currently exploring options to centralise the purchasing of all stationery.

If the number of staff who want to go back exceeds the number of desks currently allocated in team zones, how will managers determine who goes back?

Managers were asked to identify how many desks were required during the planning stages of developing new spaces at County Hall. Teams will need to work together to decide how best to share the space they have been allocated and to make use of shared zones when team zone capacity is exceeded.

How do external partners complete the fire safety training before using County Hall?

External partners do not need to undertake our fire safety training, the responsibility for their training rests with their employers. If you have any external visitors attending County Hall you are responsible for them while they're on site and must make sure they are familiar with the evacuation procedures and you are responsible for ensuring they leave the building safely.

How will access to meeting rooms be managed?

Please see information on how to book a meeting room.

Hybrid meeting rooms are set up with MS Teams capability allowing meetings to take place with some colleagues physically present in the room and others working remotely. Find out more about how to book and use a hybrid meeting room.

Will teams be given flexibility to choose how to use their space?

Yes. We accept that one size doesn't fit all and teams will be able to use their space in a way that best suits their needs.

Will there be the option to have pedestals in team zones?

No, there will be no pedestals in team zones.

Can we leave some things in the office such as plants and mugs?

There will be team lockers available which can be used as determined by the team. Plants can be brought into the team zones.

What happens if someone arrives to work and there are no spaces available in their team zone?

Managers are expected to manage the use of their team zones effectively, however we will also have shared touchdown spaces available for all to use.

Can refreshment facilities include mugs, tea, coffee and milk be provided to avoid everyone having to bring their own each day?

Facilities zones will include kitchen areas to prepare drinks and food but refreshments themselves will not be provided.

How will noise levels be managed when people are sharing the same space but attending different Teams meetings?

Please see our guidance on using shared spaces.

What will happen if teams do not use their allocated Team Zone?

We'll be monitoring the use of space to make sure we are using it as effectively as possible.

If a team has not asked for a team zone but a new staff member joins and is unable to work at home how will this be accommodated?

The staff member could use space in the shared areas or we would work the service department involved to look at how space can be allocated.

Will we have the option to use a workspace or meeting room closer to home?

Yes, if it works for the delivery of your service you will be able to utilise shared spaces across the county once they have been rolled out.

Will the council accept responsibility for laptops being left on desks overnight if we are working consecutive days in the office?

To support business continuity, laptops should not be left in offices overnight.

Technology and equipment

What support is there for those who have difficulty transporting their equipment around County Hall or to and from home?

Anyone with a disability or medical condition which affects their ability to transport equipment required should initially have a discussion with their manager. This will help determine how best to support the individual in terms of working patterns and locations or what additional measures are necessary. A referral to Occupational Health could be considered if further support is necessary.

What equipment will be provided on desks at County Hall?

Details are included in our modern workspace information.

Will we be given technology that is fit for the job, for example, smart phones with better signal coverage and lighter laptops with better battery life?

A range of ICT equipment is available for colleagues to use which is considered fit for purpose for the range of council roles. Laptops are becoming lighter, have much better battery life and reboot more quickly as technology changes.

Will wireless equipment be made available to reduce the number of cables?

Wifi will be extended over a period of time. All desks will be set up with USB hubs with network connections to enable staff to easily connect wherever wifi is unavailable.

Wireless keyboards and mice are being considered, however, although they reduce the need for cables, they do introduce the need for batteries for which the cost and environmental impact need to be considered.

Are there plans to invest in technology to provide hybrid meeting rooms?

A hybrid meeting room has been set up at County Hall and the overall number of hybrid meeting rooms required is being considered and will be reviewed regularly. The solution can be replicated, for consistency, across all council buildings.

Where can we securely store personal items? Will lockers be provided?

Lockers will be provided in the community hub areas. These are day use lockers only and further guidance will be issued about this as teams are invited back to County Hall.

Property and facilities management

Will any maintenance work be done to buildings before we return such as improving heating systems or fixing peeling paint?

In this first phase of the programme we haven't done any redecoration but we have carried out required repairs and maintenance work. The focus has been on creating the zones that will allow for more a more flexible way of working. During the next phase of the programme, we will be looking at decoration, maintenance and refurbishment.

Is adequate ventilation available in all meeting rooms?

Surveys have been carried out to establish the fresh air availability in each room, either directly or by mechanical ventilation. We will only make spaces available when adequate ventilation is in place.

Would all these savings on accommodation and energy efficiencies be taking place if it wasn't for COVID-19?

Yes they would, the council needs to save £5 million from its property by 2025 and we need to ensure that our properties are energy efficient to meet our carbon reduction targets.

How will the various zones and meeting rooms be cleaned and who will be responsible?

Cleaning of the spaces will be undertaken by the council's joint venture organisation Vertas Derbyshire Ltd but cleaning materials will also be made available for colleagues to clean workstations between users if required.

What provisions are being made for those who cannot access all rooms or floors at County Hall?

We have worked with the Disabled Workers Group, occupational health, and health and safety colleagues to produce an equality impact assessment. We have also worked with managers to identify those with specific needs and the programme team have planned team zones accordingly.

Will disabled parking spaces still be available?

There have been no changes to the availability of disabled parking spaces at County Hall.

Are there any plans for better shower facilities for those people who want to bike or run to work?

Not at this stage. Any upgrading of shower facilities will form part of future phases of the Modern Ways of Working programme.

Has the number of parking spaces at County Hall been assessed to accommodate the additional load from the other sites?

We're not increasing the overall amount of workspace available at County Hall, we're just using it differently so car parking capacity will remain the same.

Working from home

Will there be any financial contribution to the increased utility costs when working from home?

Employees may be benefiting from reduced travel costs for their normal commute to work which will help to offset costs that may be associated with working from home.

If you have concerns please speak to your manager who can look at your working arrangements.

What provision will be made for those who do not have the space to work from home?

If you have concerns please speak to your manager who can look at your working arrangements.

How can we securely store or dispose of confidential paperwork when working from home?

Please see our guidance on confidential waste in the home.

Where staff have excessive records at home which require shredding, this should be discussed with their line manager so a suitable solution can be agreed.

How will the need to print from home be accommodated?

If there is a requirement to print then you are able to attend the workplace, ask a colleague to print the document or contact the Business Centre.

Will the council pay to provide office furniture at home?

There are no current plans to provide equipment at home unless it is as a result of an occupational health referral recommendation.

Travel

Will designated bases change if people continue to work from home and how will this affect travel claims?

This is something that the council is considering to ensure we can work in the most effective and efficient way and that our terms and conditions support this. We are working closely with our recognised trade unions on the MWOW programme and we will continue to keep you informed as this progresses.