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Agile/Flexible Working

Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

Case Study: Agile/Flexible Working

Dearden provided a consultancy service to a Trust who were looking to review and deliver an improved flexible/agile working process for their staff. The COVID pandemic has fundamentally changed the way that staff work, and the Trust had accommodated a myriad of flexible working arrangements including home working, compressed working weeks, hot desking etc during the peak of COVID restrictions. In asking staff to return to the workplace, they wanted to review, amend, and formalise these arrangements and ensure that there were benefits for the organisation and for staff involved.

What we did

We led and facilitated a short-term project to review flexible/agile working arrangements and create a framework for implementation of improved working practices for staff and the Trust.

This work included:

  • Establishing and facilitating a cross sectional group of staff from different grades, backgrounds, roles, and professions alongside service users to act as a steering group
  • Agreeing aims and objectives and underlying principles
  • Reaching clarity on the behaviour and values that will drive the work and which underpin the organisation’s way of working
  • Widespread engagement with staff
  • Creation and roll out of a decision tree to help structure discussions between managers and colleagues. This ensured both the service need and individual needs were considered when agreeing flexible/agile working.
  • Creation of user profiles which sets out worker profiles and standard equipment for each type of worker
  • Drafting of FAQs for managers and staff
  • Production of financial guidance and guidance on the use of IT
  • Creation of a communications strategy to support the project.

This work was framed within agreed success criteria, which included the percentage of staff working in a hybrid way, the percentage of staff satisfied with new ways of working etc, and was aligned with the Trust’s clinical digital strategy. This was to ensure that ways of working were rooted in how the Trust would wok with patients in the future and that any ways of working agreed would work for the Trust’s patients and service users.

During the project, we encountered a number of barriers including attitude (both manager and individual staff members), space, systems and processes, finance, digital skills etc. All of these were addressed in consultation with the Trust and the steering group and overcome.

What we achieved

As a consequence of our involvement, the Trust now has a revised and updated flexible working policy that is fit for purpose and covers the wide range of agile working arrangements that sprang up during the pandemic. They have an established methodology for dealing with flexible working requests and even a standard equipment profile for different types of workers. The Trust now also a baseline understanding of which of their staff are homeworking which is appropriately required via ESR. The second phase of this work is to release estates savings through the rationalisation of space that this project has achieved.