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Brent Council saves £5m a year via flexible working

Charlotte Jee Published 26 September 2013

Local authority now has the capacity for 100% of the staff to work remotely from one building instead of 14


Brent Council is saving £5m every year thanks to efforts to reduce its property portfolio and introduce flexible ways of working to its staff.

The council is due to open its new civic centre on 6 October. The new building, which cost £90m to build, has allowed the authority to reduce its property estate from 14 properties to one and bring together most of its employees under one roof.

Speaking at Government ICT 2.0 conference, Stephan Conaway, chief information officer (CIO) at Brent Council, explained the fundamental role ICT has played to enabling new ways of working at the authority, setting out how the council now has the capacity for 100% of the workforce to work remotely.

He said that the council has reduced the prevalence of desk phones, adding that most staff now do not have a desk phone but instead have a smart phone running either Apple's iOS or Android.

According to Conaway, thin client technology has also been introduced so that workers can access their desktop on their laptops, tablets, home PCs and mobile devices. He explained that the council has 2,600 phones, 700 laptops and 700 tablets available for its employees, but added, "It's not really about the technology- it's about the way that it's being used".

Conaway said that a new operating system, used for 3,300 of the council's devices, was able to be upgraded 'with minimal IT involvement'. He compared that to a prior upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, which he said "took two years and a six figure cost."

He also pointed to initiatives such as how employees are using iPads to video and record items in the field to inform work back at base, and how they are also being used to hold paperless meetings, with the council now printing 10m fewer sheets of paper every year.

Conaway said, "The results to date are that we've shaken the council up and got it to think of the end user. People are now talking about technology and engaging with us. We're kick-started a culture of change and transformation, with people now coming to us and asking what they can do with their devices, rather than the other way round."

He said that the authority is continuing to focus on implementing its transformation programme, by integrating its line of business applications, focusing on data management, setting up performance dashboards, and deepening the council's work with social media.


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