The Big Question June 2018

What, if anything, can the corporate world learn from the public sector when it comes to workplace innovation?

Terry Gunnery, Director of Design, AECOM
The public sector has been much more successful at implementing ‘smarter working’ on a very large scale, with rigorous consistency, sticking with it, even with changes in leadership or other disruptors
and constantly pushing the boundaries and innovating further.
Additionally, the public sector really believes in inclusivity and accessibility, well above the statutory minimum, and more than the private sector, this also addresses and anticipates the fact that we’ll be in work for longer as well accommodating the wellness agenda.

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Damian Harvey, Associate Director – Commercial (Construction), Como
The workplaces that HMRC are providing are a catalyst for integration, collaboration and a change in ways of working for their employees.  The public sector world can definitely learn from their approach which is founded on providing best value for money but through an innovative way of working whereby all framework contractors collaboratively work together to achieve specific targets to transform them into a modern, digitally-advanced tax authority.

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Louise Walker, Public Sector Sales Director Interface
The people using the space are always at the forefront of innovation in the public sector and it must take into account a much wider audience than corporate settings. Research suggests design is one of the most influential factors in helping students decide where to go to university and is therefore key to attracting and retaining future talent. Whereas the corporate world has been focused on short term business needs, it is now adopting the approach seen in the public sector to create innovative and people-focused workspaces.

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Anthony Brown, Sales & Marketing Director, BW: Workplace Experts
The popularity of financial vehicles to fund public sector projects, a surge in ethical business and a newfound responsibility amongst some businesses means that the lines are blurring. The best outcome from this is that both sectors learn from one another – for example, I would highlight the framework agreements frequently used in the public sector could be effectively adapted by the private sector.

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Clive Hall, Director, BDG architecture + design
Media scrutiny ensures that the workplace of the public sector is very much a back-office. Its existence is to facilitate front-line services that are often seen as not just unsexy, but downright dangerous. Every penny spent in a government or local government office is our money, it is taking money from soldiers, social workers or refuse collectors and, ultimately, us. The only innovation that the public sector is allowed is efficiency.

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Nick Atkin, Chief Executive, Halton Housing
The public sector has adapted to swathing cuts in operating budgets. Many now operate as businesses with a social conscience. This has resulted in maximising the potential from workplace space as well as reducing costs. This increasingly agile working approach has also enabled the retention of key staff during a time when pay levels have remained static. The corporate world should take a good long hard look at its own office costs and think what it could do if these were reduced by 30, 40 or even 50%.

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