Hybrid home and office working could be adopted staff at Calderdale Council
A hybrid mix of home and office working could be in the mix as a council prepares for the future out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Calderdale Council’s Strategy and Performance Scrutiny Board were reviewing actions being taken to ensure each council directorate reflected the diversity of the borough’s people in its workforce, and included consideration of staff’s health and wellbeing.
Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) said more than 1,300 council employees were now working from home and even after the pandemic was over that will be the rule rather than the exception.
And although home working might mean less office space was needed possibly saving money, the issue had to be carefully considered.
“It concerns me because a lot of people are not happy working from home and in isolation.
“I would hope you would be looking at a hybrid method of working.
“It might save money but at what cost is my concern,” she said.
Ms Addison said issues linking mental health and homeworking was a concern that had been raised – many staff did enjoy working from home but others did not, and no decision had been taken on whether or not this would continue long term.
Half the council’s staff have been working on the front line and many have been deployed to undertake other tasks during the pandemic and the recovery stage would build on all the staff’s experience, she said.
“We are looking at a blended approach.
“Where people have expressed a concern we have referred them to occupational health and brought them back into the office to enable that,” she said.
Coun Victoria Porritt (Lab, Elland) was concerned that after a year of the pandemic staff becoming exhausted yet there was an element of “having to be there”.
Ms Addison said staff were told to take a proportion of their leave every month and the closedown over Christmas had helped enormously.
Board Chair Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) asked what measures the council had in place to ensure all staff’s voices could be heard.
Ms Addison said wellbeing surveys and an all-staff webinars had been used with more than 200 staff asking 64 different questions at the most recent webinar, with answers given live or given in writing afterwards.
Coun Mike Barnes (Lab, Skircoat) wanted a thorough review of things like hybrid working.
Coun Porritt said it was important the diversity reports were not treated as a “tick box” exercise, every member of staff had to be given the chance to realise their potential, and Ms Addison said this would be the case.
Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park) said she wanted to see some rigour into ensuring the objective of being diverse was threaded throughout the council.