To consider a report and presentation from the Executive Director – Economy and Environment and the Executive Director – Corporate, Customer and Community Services (copy enclosed).
Members received a report and presentation from the Executive Director - Corporate, Customer and Community Services and the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure on ways of working and return to the workplace. The officers gave an overview of the impact on the Council’s ways of working during the pandemic and resulting lockdown measures. The presentation outlined work that was being undertaken to ensure staff and members could return to workplaces safely as the lockdown measures were lifted in a phased approach.
Members were informed on the different working approach that had been taken by the council during the pandemic. The Executive Director – Corporate, Customer and Community Services outlined the comprehensive health and wellbeing support package available to staff. It was recognised that this would not be a short term crisis and Covid-19 would have a long term impact on the way council services would be delivered. Work was taking place on new ways of working to hold on to and embed and build on and the presentation outlined the early work on the objectives and principles guiding this programme of work. It was recognised that the planning phase of the recovery was critical to the health, safety and wellbeing of staff. Members were assured that the recovery phase work would be integrated into and, not an addition to, the current work stream.
A working focus group had been established to look at various issues. In answer to a question, the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure confirmed that plans were being considered on utilising council vehicles to assist with transport for staff.
Members highlighted digital inclusion and conducting virtual meetings. Members discussed the advantages and disadvantages of home and virtual working raising some concerns on the isolation aspect of it whilst recognising the benefits of it too. In answer to a member’s question, the need to have additional council buildings to achieve lower staff density was discussed. It was recognised that this was an economic crisis as well as a health one and consideration was being given to restart the Cumbrian economy in conjunction with other organisations such as Cumbria LEP and District Councils. The officers confirmed that support, guidance and advice was available to businesses to assist with reopening.
Members’ raised the issue of support available to upskill managers to assist with the management of staff whilst home working such as sickness absence. It was suggested and agreed that the Organisational Development Plan be reviewed and discussed at the next meeting of the Board. It was further suggested that an item for the Board’s future consideration was to look at community level work, incorporating this long term into existing plans and the workforce to help capacity.
A member raised the issue of putting support measures in place for services users, as well as staff, during the recovery period. The Assistant Director – Strategic Commissioning informed members that day services were currently being reviewed to see what could be re-established.
The officers were thanked for their very informative presentation.
(1) the report be noted;
(2) a review of the Organisational Development Plan be an item on the next Board meeting’s agenda.