3.22 — weeknotes — “we are all equal in the square” — best quote from President’s Week conference

It was Socitm’s President’s Week conference this week. One of the best things about having virtual conferences is that you are able to be in many places almost at the same time. This week we have finalised a draft of the cabinet report and digital strategy update for our first year of the digital strategy.

On Tuesday of this week I went to our corporate leadership team with an update on the world of work program and more specifically what we are planning on doing with Hounslow House. It was an excellent discussion lots of conversation and challenge. Our approach to the next few months is to ensure colleagues are supported in returning to a workplace and that we are not rushing back. We really want to be bold in emerging from the pandemic and taking advantage of the new ways of working that have worked so well during the pandemic.

Rather than the building being segmented by teams as it is at the moment, we are proposing that there will be different work zones, for example, quiet zone for quiet work like a quiet carriage zone on a train, collaboration spaces for teamwork and innovative thinking and general use as well for colleagues that need to come in and work at a desk. We are also proposing to continue working as we are currently until September at the earliest so that we continue to make plans and pilot new ways in our buildings . We are also making all our buildings available for staff. The important thing with this is that we are supporting colleagues and managers in the leadership change required for such a different way of working.

We had another one of our digital inclusion group meetings this week where we presented the new Digital Inclusion Commitment that we want to take forward as part of the digital strategy for this year. This is building on all the amazing work that’s taken place over the last year but structuring the program of work in a different way and be more focused in the deliverables. I’m really excited about this piece of work moving forward.

At President’s Week, one of the highlights for me, has to have been Jackie Weaver’s key note on day three. A really good reminder of the importance of democracy and ensuring that our local communities have access to the democracy and can be involved in the decision making process. Virtual meetings gives us the opportunity to engage in different ways, in safe ways and engage younger and those excluded through accessibility for example.

Disappointed that Government not on the same page and not able to hold meetings virtually now — continues to be a disconnect between community and politics as seen that not able to influence the decisions. It is good that we are able to embrace the tech and build on what has been done over the pandemic.

I was part of a panel discussion on the third day of the conference on hybrid working and was given an opportunity to talk about all the things that Hounslow have been doing. It was great to hear what other colleagues have been doing in terms of hybrid working and skills I share what we’ve been doing.

One of my favourite takeaways for the panel was from Julie Towers from Penna when she was talking about online interviewing being really positive for diversity and inclusion. She used the fantastic phrase “We are all equal in the square” — meaning that we are all the same in that little square in teams or zoom or google and that you are not judging, making assumptions and there’s also no groupthink, that can happen when you are in a room. I really hope this is one of the positive things that comes out from the pandemic

A massive well done to everybody involved in the conference, all the chairs and everyone ‘backstage’, it takes so much in the planning and execution of these events. Starting now to look forward to the share national conference we’ve got in July on ethics of data and emerging technologies.

Lots of work continues to take place around the One Hounslow programme of work and we really are getting things sorted in terms of the approach, projects and governance. Still lots to do but think we are getting there and driving the delivery forwards as well. Have more new colleagues joining us over the next few weeks as well, which is always nice to meet new people.

Tune of the Week: to continue the pride theme and loving the council’s pride logo….Lady Gaga — Born This Way (Official Music Video)

Director of Digital & IT for the London Borough of Hounslow