Microsoft CityNext: How Nottinghamshire County Council is saving money on the go

When someone says the phrase “flexible working” to you, what image comes to mind? Is it a lazy worker, half-heartedly answering e-mails in their pyjamas with the telly on in the background? Do you think of flexible working as a perk? Or as a productivity drain? If so, you’re in for a big surprise.

When the Nottinghamshire County Council gave staff tablet devices so they could work flexibly they saw productivity increase 16%. That’s the rough equivalent of an extra day’s worth of work every 6 days. What’s going on here?

Let’s start at the beginning: Nottinghamshire County Council is committed to ‘do things differently’. They know that local governments need to be willing to make big changes if they want to thrive amid budget cuts and the economic strain of an increasingly elderly population. The old methods of trying to squeeze extra efficiencies out of already over-worked staff no longer suffice. Local governments need to transform to meet the challenges ahead.

So that’s just what Nottinghamshire is doing. The council launched a pilot program to give senior executives and front-line staff access to tablets. Front-line social care workers’ daily routines involve a lot of time out of the office. They travel, they visit citizens’ homes and they spend a lot of time waiting around in court rooms. Their days are filled with little pockets of time where they could be getting stuff done, but don’t have access to the files and programs they need. Having a tablet suddenly allowed them to be connected to their office, no matter where they were.

Now Nottinghamshire is taking their mobility strategy to the next level. By December of 2015, the county council will deploy 2,000 Windows tablets to staff throughout the organisation. They also plan to replace 1,000 BlackBerry devices with Windows Phones.

Why opt for Windows devices? Nottinghamshire may have started its flexible working pilot with iPads and Blackberry phones, but they’re making the switch to Windows because they’re committed to enhancing productivity throughout their organisation. Windows offers improvements in workflow, thanks to data being entered into a single, secure system, rather than multiple platforms. Windows also means staff have access to all the collaboration apps staff need to do their best work, including Exchange, Lync and SharePoint. Windows 8.1 will also let staff access bespoke applications on the move and update records during care visits instead of waiting until back in the office. 

The results are already impressive, and the forecast ahead looks even better. Nottinghamshire is targeting £154 million in overall savings by 2016/17. Still think flexible working is just about e-mailing in pyjamas?

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