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Contact: Barbel Gale, Governance Manager
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members in respect of items listed on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any part of the agenda.
The Chair advised that there were no items of business on the agenda that would require the exclusion of the press and public from the meeting.
To provide an update on the impact of employee working arrangements following the introduction of the Hybrid Working Policy in October 2021.
1. That Staffing Committee note the review of the Council’s working Location arrangements.
2. That Staffing Committee approve the implementation of the revised Working Location Policy.
The Assistant Director introduced the report noting that when Council employees first moved to Riverside House in late 2011, desk ratios averaged six desks to every ten employees due to the size of the workforce at the time.
During the COVID lockdowns approximately half of the Council workforce were forced to work from home due to the restrictions and did so using technology to interact with customers, colleagues and access information remotely to deliver Council services.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Council had seen over 2000 new starters join the Council, equivalent to 41% of the workforce. Of those, around 500 were office-based staff.
Prior to the lifting of lockdown restrictions, a new Hybrid Working Policy was approved in September 2021 but not implemented fully until March 2022 when Covid-restrictions were lifted. This focused on delivering the best possible services for residents, whilst also recognising the benefits of staff working more flexibly.
When the Hybrid Working Policy was approved, the Staffing Committee had requested a review after six months of operational use. The review was delated to enable a more detailed assessment of desk requirements to be undertaken with a particular focus on Riverside House.
As the Council returned to more normal ways of working, clarity began to be sought by both managers and individual employees, in terms of expectations around their working arrangements. This included queries about the number of days that they would need to be based from work locations across the borough, to enable them to provide the best possible services to residents, whilst still making use of the technologies and new ways of working that Covid restrictions brought about. Some managers made a choice to bring staff back into Riverside House.
The review undertaken, considered feedback from the Employee Opinion Survey of 2021, performance outcomes and further feedback emerging from both service events and team meetings, in addition to discussions that have taken place with elected members and the Trade Unions. It also considered the occupancy levels across the Council’s workplaces, in particular Riverside House.
From the combined feedback, it is clear that there is the need to ensure an ongoing balance between ensuring that first and foremost, the Council is able to deliver high quality, effective services to residents, making better use of its operational assets, with having a degree of flexibility that many staff appreciate.
The title of the Policy had also been changed from ‘Hybrid Working’ to ‘Working Location’ in order to better reflect the range of options for staff when attending a work location within the Borough.
The Assistant Director Human Resources added that a number of Council services require face to face delivery, in order to deliver best outcomes for residents and customers. In order to do that some services returned to office-based working at the point that covid restrictions were lifted, on a rotational basis.
Information presented from a range of surveys concluded that from a health and wellbeing point of view, people who were working ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To determine any item which the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.
The Chair reported that there were no urgent items of business requiring the Committee’s consideration.