Just a quarter of Essex County Council staff should return to HQ full time says report
News / Thu 7th Oct 2021 at 02:53pm
THE county council is reviewing its office requirements post-covid given it expects about three quarter of its workforce will be working at least partly from home by 2022.
With nearly 6,000 people of its total 7,700 staff to be working under a hybrid model, the county council adds that it does not yet know what shape the new working arrangements will necessitate but could lead areas that are no longer required in county hall reports the Local Democracy Service.
Even before covid, county council buildings had a 50 per cent occupancy rate and by Autumn 2022 it wants to “to redefine the purpose of buildings and create spaces staff need and will utilise”.
The authority said it wants to “support the change journey” to enable effective flexible working and end up ion a position to “right-size” its estate portfolio.
However a spokesman added that there is no question of seeing “for sale” signs outside county hall.
The spokesman said: “We don’t know how much excess space we may have if any at all – part of this dynamic is getting the space right.
“It might well be we find that because we need to devote more areas to meetings and creative space we need the same level of accommodation. We don’t know.”
Whilst the final strategy is being developed and agreed, in preparation to test the right-sizing of the main hub at county hall the county council has hibernated part of the building which will see savings of £125,000 for 2021/22 and £250,000 for subsequent years if maintained.
In Colchester, the county council plans to sell Stanwell House and vacate Essex House by end of September 2023 by invoking its break clause
Children’s, Families and Education will be moving from Stanwell House and Essex House into Rowan House owned by Colchester Borough Council.
The spokesman added: “Where we are is working out directorate by directorate on a departmental basis what the requirements are going to be going forward. What people we need in and how frequently.
“That’s the stage we are at the moment. From there it’s a natural progression to consider your office spaced accommodation- have you got the right space and are you going to meet the need of that part of the business.
“We are at the start of the process. It will not be rushed, we don’t have to rush it. We want to get it right but that work is just starting.”
If services can be maintained on this basis, maybe they should look to reducing the workforce (job sharing/part-time, etc) and certainly reduce the office spaces to make savings for Council taxpayers.
Typical Tory spin any opportunity to sack staff. We should be investing in staff not making wild and unfounded suggestions of sacking them. Terrible local Tories is complete free fall in Harlow so they deflect attention by giving their professional view of others. Tories the party that just keeps giving.
Durcan, nobody is advocating sacking staff out of hand. The issue is value for money. Council taxpayers deserve value for money. Are you seriously advocating that if Council staff are working remotely that it makes sense to retain Council permises in their current format? Who pays for the maintenance and upkeep. When did you and your party last review productivity? When did Harlow's former Labour administration last benchmark productivity against other councils? When did you review the cost of premises? You and your cohorts see taxpayers are a easy target to bankroll your inefficiency without accountability. Little wonder you were kicked out of administration. Taxpayers deserve better.
Essex County Council do not sack staff what they do is TUPE staff to outside companies. Then the new company realise just how overstaffed council departments were and start announcing redundancies. Then ECC say well its nothing to do with us as you are no longer employed by us. Its a very cynical move by ECC and I speak from personal experience. Every firm that has taken staff from ECC have all announced redundancies within one year.