The civil service is currently facing the challenge of meeting increasing demand for provision of high quality services, without allowing tax rates to go through the roof. There is no doubt that to respond to these challenges the government estate must change – and it is changing. The general viewpoint is now very much that work is what you do, not a place you go. For many people, work and personal lives are becoming ever more integrated. Technology allows for people to communicate on the go and members of the next generation have grown up surrounded by the technology that allows work to be done virtually anywhere. This generation is already highly mobile, highly connected and comfortable mixing the real and virtual worlds. This provides a challenge and opportunity for a revaluation of the government estate as a whole. It seems that the government does not need more space, but instead needs better workplaces that are more intelligently distributed and far more intensively used.
The Government Property Unit
The Government Property Unit (GPU) was established in 2010 to improve government coordination of property and to improve the management and performance of the government estate, stating that it’s vision is “to create an efficient, fit-for-purpose and sustainable estate that delivers value for money and facilitates flexible working”. The GPU’s objectives include:
- delivering significant savings and value for the taxpayer
- providing better, more integrated local services, in places which are more convenient for users
- creating an effective and efficient government estate
- release public sector land and assets for housing and employment
With these objectives in mind, the GPU is now focusing its attention on the provision of Public Sector Service Hubs. These Hubs are multi-tenanted, interagency collaborative zones which provide the opportunity for interagency cooperation within different areas of the public sector. The anatomy of the Hubs requires sufficient sized clustering, being within a 15 minute walk from a train station, allowing for connectivity, providing local growth and jobs and working with the local authority throughout the process.
Public Sector Service Hubs
DragonGate are a specialist intelligence hub that, in recent years, have developed a niche expertise in public service re-design programmes and the company have enlisted Baker Stuart’s specialist workplace knowledge to support in the creation of the Public Sector Service Hubs. David Werran, DragonGate’s executive chairman, voiced his vision for the Hubs as “becoming a familiar part of the new public sector property scene, linking up with other Hubs around the country, thus increasing the opportunity for connectivity”. These buildings need to allow their tenants to be more productive, collaborate more and be more effective – and they need to do this in less space. Indeed, David stated that “a key aspect of the hub is it’s connectivity allowing public sector organisations across the spectrum to collaborate and share services”.
Agile Working in the Public Sector
So how do we achieve a first class workspace which enables first class services whilst still allowing for ever decreasing budgets? The answer is, of course, through implementing agile working. David also commented on this, stating that “the Hub is a perfect environment for the development of pure agile working and modern office practices”. Having multiple government agencies in the same service Hub should allow for better communication between government bodies and the buildings are being designed in such a way that allows for agile working to be easily and effectively implemented. Changing staff culture and breaking the traditional ‘nine to five’ working mentality is important for the success of agile working and the infrastructure of the Hubs is being designed with this in mind. At Baker Stuart we recognise the need to unite the bricks, the bits and the brains of an organisation in order to achieve real, positive change – this is what we’re all about at Baker Stuart.
When asked why DragonGate chose to work with Baker Stuart, David stated that it’s because “Baker Stuart are the leaders in workplace transformation, with ideas reaching into the future”. Through working with DragonGate on these Hubs we hope to generate real, positive change within the public sector and allow for agile working to charge forwards, with the Hubs setting the standards for years to come.
- Visit the GPU website here.
- Visit DragonGate’s website here.
- Read about the government’s initiative ‘Working Without Walls’.
- Click here to read the Government’s Estate Strategy, published in 2013.