Future Ways of Working in the Public Sector

At HSM Advisory, we’re proud to have worked in collaboration with Essex County Council on a recent advisory report on future ways of working in the public sector.

While the past 18 months have been difficult and disruptive for many in public services, many public organisations have also discovered an agility they didn’t realise they had, leading them to some key insights about the reshaping of work. Here are some of the insights we uncovered.

Public jobs can be redesigned. Designing work around different working styles has emerged as a helpful way to increase flexibility, learn about the impact of different working patterns, and design the jobs of the future by understanding how different outcomes can be reached with different combinations of time and space.

The office has a different role now. While many areas of the public sector have been more forward thinking than most when it comes to remote working, they have nonetheless been reassessing how they approach physical space, with many creating activity-based offices and collaborations “hubs” to encourage employees to do interactive collaborative work in the office and more focused work elsewhere.

Work has become more purposeful. With no water-cooler to gather around, employees have used shared purpose to stay close. This has only been possible because leaders have provided a strong sense of purpose for others to plug into.

People need connection. As we redesign work, it’s important to ensure we make space for intentional connection, allowing employees to access social interaction and ensuring they feel comfortable prioritising human interactions as well as more transactional meetings. When it comes to emotional support, this may have to be offered proactively to those working remotely – not everyone feels able to reach out when they need it.

New joiners need special care. Networks have suffered during the pandemic but hybrid working provides an opportunity to build them back up. While this may happen fairly organically for those who are already established in their roles, new joiners need a more structured approach to network building to help them develop those ties in the first place. Providing dedicated time for them to connect and explore their community of colleagues is vital.

The benefits of these actions are clear: many public sector organisations are already discovering that they now have a more inclusive environment, where employees feel listened to and acknowledged. Flexibility around time and place is also helping open up opportunities to work with new partners and communities. By building a strategy of embedding these insights and associated behaviours, the public sector aims to create healthy, sustainable work and deliver better work outcomes and delivery of services in an environment where work is activity rather than location-based.

You can read our newly published report on Future Ways of Working in the Public Sector here.