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Public sector needs to act now to deliver cost savings

Public sector needs to act now to deliver cost savings

Posted 6 months ago by UK Business Advertiser

104 total views


The Operational Efficiency Programme, published last month by HM Treasury, advocated that government departments should consider desk sharing as a viable solution to help save money on wasted office space. The report suggested that by divesting 30% of its under-utilised real estate, the government could save approximately £1 billion a year in running costs. The target set by the HM Treasury is to reduce space occupancy from 14.5 to 10 square metres per FTE and use desk booking systems to help manage space more effectively. Paul Statham, managing director at RNM Systems, stated: These recommendations will not come as a surprise to many. For a long time now, most local government buildings have been operating with a desk occupancy rate of just 45%, meaning that on any given day there can be as many as 297,000 empty desks in local authorities across England alone. These are quite astonishing statistics, especially when considering that an individual desk can cost up to £13,000 a year to run. If public sector employees are prepared to adopt flexible working, they should also be ready to accept a more modern approach to desking at work. Working in a modern office is no longer about owning a particular desk but having guaranteed access to the right kind of facility for getting the work done and employees will need to understand this. It is no longer acceptable for offices to have such low levels of occupancy, especially if the taxpayer is paying for it,he continued. Whilst it might well be relatively easy to implement flexible working amongst staff and educate them accordingly, by contrast, desk booking is something that requires more attention, time and investment to roll out. Most staff will respond negatively when told that they will have to share their desk or book a desk in advance of coming in to the office. When dealing with such a drastic change in working culture, this issue needs to be handled with care by senior management. Any desk booking system put in place should have the approval of those who will be using it on a daily basis. The system should be tailored to suit the employees needs and set up with their convenience in mind – they will need to feel comfortable enough to use it regularly. Often desk booking systems can be built into the internal Intranet, which is undoubtedly the most popular and convenient option available, he added. In order to comply with The Operational Efficiency Programme successfully, councils introducing a flexible working scheme will need to implement a desk booking system that will allow employees to book desks prior to arriving at the office. Condeco desk booking system enables employees to view and make desk bookings via the Intranet, eliminating the issue of double bookings and dramatically reducing costs, previously spent on under-utilised real estate. Evidently, many local authorities have already started to implement the Operational Efficiency Programme’s recommendations and some have indeed been practicing this way of working for a while now. But on the whole, the public sector has a long way to go when it comes to addressing the issues of under-utilised real estate and low office occupancy levels. HM Treasury has taken a major step in the right direction by highlighting flexi-working and desk booking as the most effective way to tackle the issues surrounding the public sector property portfolio. Surely it is only a matter of time before we see these practices being rolled out across the board and flexi-working and desk booking embraced across local authorities and councils, he concluded.

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