Being given the 'keys' to your own office has traditionally been seen as a reward for hard work; a sign you’ve moved up the career ladder and have space to crack on with major tasks alone … isolated from your team … where a door becomes a barrier that many are afraid to cross.
Those free-flowing conversations you once had with colleagues stops, and the weight of solving major problems feels as if it’s shifted solely onto your shoulders. Okay that may sound dramatic but you get the drift - working alone in an office all the time isn’t good for anyone, and it isn’t good when major change needs to happen.
We all know collaboration is key to becoming the Council of the Future, and the first step towards achieving that goal is to ensure employees feel supported, trusted and listened to. One easy way to build those bonds is for management to work side-by-side with their teams and colleagues.
There are endless examples that highlight the benefits of giving up an office and hotdesking with your team, but what about examples from within the Council?
Closer to home
Several managers already sit with their teams building the trust needed to underpin transformation and cement a shared sense of purpose. One of these people is Lorna Chisholm, Benefits Manager. Last year she let go of her office in Callendar Square to embrace Anytime Anywhere working.
How did you feel giving up your office? I was apprehensive. I was used to working in a certain way. I’m very organised, all my papers were filed in folders and I knew where to find things. Plus, I didn’t know how the team would feel having me sit next to them or how I would feel dealing with complex enquiries or doing a report for committee in an open space.
How do you feel now? Liberated! I wonder how I worked the way I did before. My office had no natural light. I was surrounded by paper and dust. I realise that I was closed off and isolated and that having an office is actually a physical barrier. Now I work between 6 locations – our 3 Advice Spokes & Hubs, suite 2 in the Forum, a finance room in Municipal Buildings, and from home. I work paper light. The majority of files and documents I need are electronic or available online and can be accessed wherever I log on. I do have a locker at the Forum but I mainly work out of my laptop bag.
What are the benefits? I feel closer to the staff. Communication has improved and we have a better understanding of each other and the issues we face because there is no longer an office door in the way. If a question needs answered we simply turn to each other and ask. Being in a location with other teams including Housing, Social Work, Community Advice and Debt Advice also means we can access knowledge and information immediately rather than wait on a response to an email or phone call. That has made the service more rounded and holistic and that benefits our customers too.
How can we inspire others to embrace Anytime Anywhere working? Lead by example. How could I expect my team to work in new ways i.e. hot desking and from various locations, if I didn’t do the same? They see I gave up my office and that I work from whatever desk is available at the various locations, so they feel comfortable to do the same and they know I trust them to get the work done wherever they are located.