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Scottish councils embrace flexible working to cut costs

The Improvement Service in Scotland is delivering an ambitious project to help Scottish councils use flexible and agile working to help save money.

Spearheaded by City of Edinburgh, Scottish Borders, West Lothian, Fife, Aberdeenshire and Argyll and Bute councils the project will deliver a range of online tools and hands on advice designed to help people working in Scottish local government to work more effectively.

Simon Haston, Change Champion from the Improvement Service in Scotland said, “Creating a more flexible working environment is a vital area of change for councils across the UK as budget cuts start to bite. Agile and flexible working means staff do not have to travel into the office every day, and can instead work from home, or remotely at different locations.”

The Improvement Service enlisted the help of Learning Pool, the public sector learning community experts, with the project. Learning Pool has helped the public purse make significant savings in the last three years and its co-founder, Paul McElvaney, said “There is no doubt that introducing flexible and remote working practices can save the public sector money as well as reduce our carbon footprint. All credit to the Improvement Service for facilitating this collaborative project which gets Scottish Authority Members working together to share knowledge, as well as save time and money.”

Haston continued, “Our agile working project is a great example of the Improvement Service in Scotland’s desire to show that changes in traditional working methods or future technological advances can be responded to without significant investment or disruption to Scottish Authorities and how they operate.”

Learning Pool’s role is to deliver an innovative e-learning module incorporating web 2.0 functionality to create an engaging learning experience for those Scottish Authority members required to undertake the Agile and Flexible training.

Learners will be able to complete the training when and where they like as long as they have connection to the Internet. This is a great first step to incorporate the principles of Agile and Flexible Working training to how this topic is delivered.

Scottish Authorities can also take the module we’ve developed and add in more specific information on this topic of relevance to their own Authority or incorporate their own branding using Learning Pool’s Authoring Tool.

Blended learning programme

Supporting the module will be a wide selection of resources including a guide on using web 2.0 to enhance collaborative working practices, a variety of video case studies demonstrating good practice in agile working from within Scottish Local Authorities as well as deploying a blended training programme through holding face to face events.

We know that a programme of purely online training does not suit every learner so these events will be designed to bring together Scottish Authority members and Subject Matter Experts on the topic of Agile and Remote Working, from throughout the UK, to discuss and learn from one another.

Agile working in practice

The aim throughout the project is to ‘walk the talk’ as much as possible and this was certainly true of the procurement process, all of which was conducted virtually. Indeed, the panel assessing the tender bids never met face to face, and the presentations from suppliers were conducted via web conferencing.

We’ve continued this way of working in our management of the project, using a variety of online tools to ensure effective communication and collaboration. This includes using-

  • a Huddle workspace to work with the key contacts in the development of the e-learning module
  • online webinar software to share documents and hold regular teleconferences
  • a dedicated Community of Practice to engage with a wider group of people interested in agile working in the public sector throughout the UK.

This project is the start of our work in Scotland, following the establishment of a permanent presence in Glasgow of our New Media Consultant, Breda Doherty. For more details about the agile working project in Scotland or Learning Pool’s complete services, contact Breda by phone on 01416 115527 (ext 1) or (0)7867 742 944. You can also email Breda on [email protected].

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