IN response to a letter in the Star a fortnight which questioned whether St Helens Borough Council had consulted with staff over more remote and agile working.

Union representatives have been working on behalf of employees at St Helens Borough Council on long term plans for more agile working for staff.

But these plans were soon accelerated in response to the Covid-19 pandemic with many teams working from home almost instantly as a way of helping to protect staff and reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19.

Staff safety has been paramount and work continues to prepare buildings to reopen to the workforce which are Covid-19 secure which is why home working is currently still ongoing.

There are many staff who have embraced the change which provides them with positives such as reduced costs from commuting and freeing up more time along with more flexible working hours. Unions have been involved in the consultation which has taken place across all affected departments throughout this period to see what had worked and what needed to be changed which we are told is being factored into the plans.
This new way of working would mean staff may work from home some of the time, from an office base some of the time, or from a variety of different workplaces such as a partner building, or a community space such as a café, community centre or library – or maybe even a mix of all these.
Work will become more about what you do, not where you do it from.

We know for some agile working doesn’t work for all and this is why we have been involved to support those who need help and management have been encouraged to keep in close contact with staff to make sure anyone finding home working difficult is being supported to find arrangements that are better suited to them.

St Helens Borough Council is not unique in looking to adapt the way many staff work and we know from neighbouring authorities that they too are looking to follow a similar model.

Further staff engagement events are taking place across the council and all staff are encouraged to get involved and have an input so that different ways of working can be considered for various departments. 

Trade unions will continue to be fully involved in all discussions regarding a move to a more agile way of working.

Union representatives for Unison, GMB, Unite and NEU at St Helens Council