To receive an update on the “build a change” programme.
RECEIVED the Build the Change Programme update, and presentation from Mark Bradbury (Director of Property and Economy) and Shafiara Muttalib-Mehra (Build the Change Programme Director).
Points highlighted included:
• Overview and Scrutiny Committee had received a comprehensive briefing on this programme on 17/2/21, and there had been two reports to Cabinet in the last 18 months.
• The vision of the Build the Change programme was to improve working practices, the environment, modernising the offices and bringing services closer to people who needed it most.
• Pictures were provided of the old Housing office and the progress on the Housing Hub construction at Edmonton Green. The hub would bring together five different teams from across the borough. The contractor had been on site since June and was due to complete by the end of November, then networks and communications would be installed and staff moved in early in 2022. Different zones would provide for collaborative working areas, video and phone conferencing, quiet study areas, and modern breakout areas. Natural light would be maximised by the large windows and use of glass.
• The first and second floor layouts of the Children and Family Services Hub, at Thomas Hardy House, were shown. Work was on track to begin in January 2022 for completion by the end of that year. Teams from three current sites would be moved to this large office, and some multidisciplinary teams. A number of themed rooms would be provided, including interview rooms.
• Changes in culture arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, such as increased working from home, had made adaption easier. The principal focus of the office buildings was to be customer facing and to facilitate collaborative working.
• New furniture was being trialled in B Block at the Civic Centre and Members were invited to visit and take a look.
Members were invited to give comments and questions:
1. The Chair asked for an update on Civic Centre future plans. It was confirmed that tenants on the upper floors wanted to stay until the end of their lease and so the current focus was on the second floor canteen and increasing the efficiency of that floor, and of the Conference Room, the ground floor and B Block South. A ground floor meeting hub was proposed, with better committee rooms, conference room and greater public accessibility. This would free up the first floor for re-fitting. A report to Cabinet was planned in late 2021 / early 2022 in respect of the business case. Layout styles and furniture were being trialled in B Block, where light refurbishment, repairs and redecoration were proposed.
2. Councillor Levy asked about the improvements for service users at the hubs. It was clarified that at Thomas Hardy House the first floor layout would be different from the second floor, which would be predominantly offices. There would be clear delineation between front of house and back office functions. Service users would be received at the first floor. The design was user-led, with service users having had input.
3. Councillor Greer asked about implications for staff with access needs. It was confirmed that there had been full engagement with the disability working group. An example was quoted in respect of personal evacuation plans from the Civic Centre, and that B Block would have a new lift direct to the outside. Additionally, there had been input from the LGBTQ community in respect of toilet provision. There should be no barriers to anyone coming into the Civic Centre to work.
Officers were thanked for the informative and useful update.