It’s time to look forward with purpose

Keith Martin, Sales Director at Phoenix, takes a look at the impact that COVID-19 has had, and will continue to have, on Local and Regional Government in the UK.

The delivery of public services is more complex than ever before. Local Authorities are having to juggle delivering ever improving solutions to their citizens at a time when budget cuts are still a regular occurrence. When you add to the mix concerns regarding Brexit and a global pandemic, you can understand why so many authorities are struggling right now.

Of course, when the lockdown came into play in March, no one really knew what lay ahead, but what we did know is that the Public Sector would be relied on to keep key services running and offer much needed continuity in what quickly became an uncertain world. We saw customers look to roll out Microsoft Teams, Windows Virtual Desktop, VMware Horizon and other technologies at an unprecedented speed. It was vital the services were maintained, and that the Public Sector delivered. Working long hours, working in partnership and with a complete commitment it was amazing to see how support and contingency was put in place.

Our New Normal

We are a few months on now, and as much as the world is still struggling with COVID-19, the UK is taking baby steps towards normality. I have to add that I have already become desensitised to the phrase ‘new normal’ – we evolve, we innovate, we challenge, we change every day – the world in 2020 is very different to the world in the year 2000 which in turn was very different to the years that came before that. There is a constant move and drive towards improvement and the commitment to ever improving workplaces and public services is exactly same.

What this means in real terms of course is that many Local Authorities had very specific plans in place pre-pandemic and now those plans are having to be revised and re-written. There has been an acceleration in thinking. Having spoken to many customers over the last few months, I have heard some inspiring stories and I have also heard that thinking has moved on. Lockdown proved that working from home was viable for many roles and this is leading to interesting discussions and an understanding that flexible working could provide real benefits which include:

  • Downsizing of office space which could lead to buildings being re-utilised or sold
  • A working environment that may help with staff retention
  • Council meetings happening remotely to save costs
  • Considerations that working from home as a wider concept could lead to less congestion on the UK’s transport infrastructure

So, what does this mean?

Of course, it is not as simple as handing someone a laptop and sending them on their way. Just because many authorities have had to mobilise quickly, they still had to do it in a way that was safe and secure. Mobilisation was music to the ears of cyber criminals who were looking to exploit rushed deployments. It was also important to give the employees tools they needed to work as well – I think we have all seen some of the stats regarding Microsoft Teams and the adoption – they are just staggering. It was also vital to do all of this in an inclusive and accessible way so that organisation culture was not impacted negatively and in fact could be built upon and enhanced.

Today though, its about what’s next. Just because some 3-year business plans have been delivered in a few months doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do. I believe that local authorities have a foundation in place to continue to accelerate their transformation, to continue to improve the services they deliver and the working environments for their employees. We are helping many authorities throughout the UK to understand what their ‘What’s next’ is – to help them visualise the art of the possible, to help them unlock productivity and deliver on their purpose to improve services to those in the community who need it the most.

If you would like to hear about the work we are doing, please let us know and we will arrange a call to see how we can help.