NHS Property 22 – Hybrid and hubs panel
Representatives from Matrix Booking were delighted to hold another of our successful Hybrid and hubs panel discussions at NHS Property 22 hosted in London. Now in its 11th year running, the event was supported by NHS Property Services, Community Health Partnerships, the wider public sector, and expert service providers from the private sector. It attracted approximately 150 NHS property professionals to discuss the evolving landscapes of public sector estates.
Starting off the day, Matt Bailey (Director of Sales, Matrix Booking Ltd) ran the event opening session and introduced some recent survey data relating to the rise in hybrid working in the UK. A survey recently published by Embryo has revealed that over 30 % of full-time UK employees are hybrid working. The survey highlighted that this percentage varies across different industries.
The top five sectors in the UK for hybrid working (Embryo’s survey)
- Recruitment and HR – 55.56 %
- Marketing, Advertising and PR – 53.85 %
- Public Services and Administration – 49.01 %
- Information Research and Analysis – 46.15 %
- Insurance and Pensions – 44.74 %
Our data suggested that employees would attend their workplace four of the five working days in a week before the pandemic. This has now decreased to less than two working days a week after the restrictions were lifted. Mondays and Fridays are the quietest days in the office with the fewest number of employees attending their workplace.
Later in the day, delegates attended one of our successful Hybrid and hubs panel discussions where we exchanged views on the trends and challenges of hybrid working in more detail. Hosted by Matt Etherington (Head of NHS & Corporate Sales, Matrix Booking Ltd), the panel included:
- Cliff Howell CEng – Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Andrew Grimes – Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- George McNamara – UKSHA
Below is a summary of the panel discussions:
Learning so far
Over the last few months, we have found the following themes throughout our panels:
- hybrid working is a constant moving target
- not one size fits all – every organisation requires a different approach
- engaging with people to understand their needs enables organisations to provide a great place to work encouraging people into the office
- data – understanding how buildings are being used provides valuable information into organisations’ hybrid working strategy
How hybrid working has changed the way we work
Our panel members discussed the challenges they were facing prior to Covid and how things have changed. One panel member mentioned that spaces have not been delivering the needs of its users for a while and it was not until the pandemic that the chance to make changes was made possible. This period gave everyone an opportunity to learn how space was being utilised and improve problem areas.
The changes that our panel members had wanted to drive forward due to Covid were now on the agenda:
- agile working
- the reduction in real estate
Before COVID-19, some teams had been risk-adverse and saw the need for everyone to be able to have access to their own desk space. This suddenly and abruptly changed.
To be able to make the space savings required and increase the amount of space to care for patients, also known as clinical space, the panel commented that they needed to rationalise offsite premises. One example the delegates heard was a 40 – 50 % reduction in offsite offices for teams, such as HR, finance, and administrative roles.
During Covid, frontline staff were working more hours than ever before. Some roles also changed as different duties were being undertaken within the wider organisation. Hybrid working roles across the UKHSA have shown advantages in both productivity and financial enhancements. As a result, a conversation has taken place within the UKSHA about the future of the workplace and how space can be used in a smarter way.
The panel also commented on the need to remain attractive to people across job roles and that hybrid working has opened the talent pool that may have had issues with transport and location. By working out what is best for the organisation and its people, our panel felt this is a route to retaining, developing, and recruiting people. This is further supported by a study carried out by Ergotron that was further reported by Forbes that showed 88 % of employees agreed that the flexibility to work from home has increased job satisfaction.
Drivers behind the changes to ways of working
One of the panel members felt that hybrid working has put a strain on their office’s car parking, office space, and clinical space on certain days of the week. They found that the offices are occupied the most on either a Tuesday or Thursday, which increases the strain in these problem areas on those days. With more hybrid working, the driver for change is to spread the utilisation of the space more evenly throughout the week.
One of the drivers for change that was discussed in the panel session was the need for more clinical space. The panel and delegates felt that this could be achieved by driving capital into clinical estates as opposed to support services. By being able to recruit outside of the area, this opens access to skills at the same time as reducing the spikes in office usage as more people work remotely. In turn, this will free up more estate for clinical use.
The UKHSA are set to:
- drive change
- provide better value for money
- greater financial return
They will do this by focussing on:
- partnerships – by using shared spaces within the NHS and local government both within existing and new buildings
- people – the different ways of working are attracting new skills when recruiting
- performance – enhancing the business through changes to the way people work.
Commenting further on this, UKHSA started this is a cultural change; one that involves working closely with teams and leadership leading by example to adapt to employees’ changes in behaviour that results in new ways of working.
Hybrid and hubs Series Continues…
If you are interested in becoming a panel member, please do get in touch with our team. We would be delighted to welcome you to the conversation.