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Smarter ways of working

Moving into a new organisation is always an uncertain time, and you’re never really sure what to expect.

Joining Companies House was unlike anything I’ve experienced before – but in a good way! The whole process was seamless, and I was made to feel very comfortable and welcome. I was contacted in the weeks before even landing on my first day, which helped me to get a feel for what I was about to embark on and how things operated here.

When I started last August, I was immediately given the freedom to pick things up at my own pace and encouraged to formulate my own views and opinions on the work assigned to me. A key value of the organisation very quickly became apparent.

Companies House colleagues giving advice to attendees at our digital open day.
Alistair giving advice at our digital open day.

In our organisation, the title of a role does not define how the business operates. Nor does it define how a delivery team is run. Everyone has a responsibility to deliver valuable products and services. We’re all encouraged to think strategically and suggest ways to do things differently, challenging the status quo.

A key message for our organisation is ‘flexibility’.

Since taking up the post, I’ve adopted a ‘Smarter ways of working’ project, which has quickly developed into a passion. We’re encouraging people to change the way they approach their work and how they do it.

So, how does this work?

Finding an expert

If I have an issue I cannot sort out by myself, I’ll need to call on the experts. First, I’ll check their calendars to see if they’re available. I can then use the messaging app to ask if they’re free to meet.

To avoid interruptions and stay focussed on the issue, we sit in an empty ‘pod’ – an allocated space with a comfy seating and work area. My mobile device will automatically connect to our internal Wi-Fi, which means I can continue working where I left off, without even noticing the change.

Being flexible in my approach to work and having the tools to support this, means I can work on issues with people who are an expert in their area. We can quickly identify the problem and find a solution without lengthy email conversations and “arm’s length” communication.

Two Companies House colleagues sat in a pod looking at the screen.
Companies House colleagues working in a pod.

Keeping the focus

I love working here. But as there’s loads going on, it sometimes gets a little noisy when I need to concentrate on a complicated task.

Fortunately, I’m not tied to my desk. I can get up and move to wherever I want within the office.

By updating my status on the desktop messaging app, my team always knows where I am and I’m only a message away. This helps us deliver our individual and team objectives while maintaining trust, courtesy and respect between colleagues.

Our pods are great to get work done. I can connect to the wide screen to make things easier when working on multiple documents, or when demonstrating to a group. The high backs and enclosed environment stop all the background noise, so it’s a lot easier to focus.

Hosting visitors and networking

Using the same online technology as other government departments means we can work together in the same room.

All government departments are now using the same GovWiFi network. This means we can now work on a cross agency project and learn lessons from each other. People can not only access their work between rooms in the office, but also in other government buildings.

Do you want to work at Companies House? See our current job vacancies.

Fitting appointments around work

I have a doctor’s appointment at 10am, and a delivery at 3pm. But as I can use my mobile device to connect from home, I do not need to take a day off from work. I can adjust my working pattern to accommodate, in agreement with my team.

With our online flexi system, I can clock in and out of work remotely. This means I can work a few hours before going to the doctors.

If I have a meeting, I can use the messaging app to connect and join the meeting virtually. I can see and hear everything discussed, and also present my slides to the group.

Delivering my outcomes in a more efficient way benefits me and the business.

What else have I learned?

For all the positives, there were some difficulties to overcome.

Although our teams were doing some really good innovative stuff, no one was very keen to shout about it. I soon discovered that most were reluctant to talk to anyone outside their immediate group about how they were working.

This has proven difficult to crack. But with perseverance, I’ve recently formed a group of other agencies who’ve started similar smarter ways of working. This has opened new channels and provided valuable insight into how to overcome pitfalls and avoid potential blockers.

Companies House is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever worked. Its flexible approach and wealth of communities, expert practice groups and support mechanisms, offers a new and exciting way to do work. And if you’re in it for the long run, this gives you the best possible environment to thrive and prosper.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by John Harvey posted on

    Interested in comment about flexitime and seeing a GP. I fear that the health of workers in the gig economy suffers because they can't afford to lose wages by taking time off work for an appointment at the surgery

    This needs tackling from both sides. Employers need to be flexible and GPs to use appointment avoiding technology

    Last year a GP who was on his own with an enormous list after his partners had retired wrote of his experience in the Times. He encouraged patients with rashes etc to email photo of infections. He then got a nurse or assistant to email (usually standard ) advice to use an over-the-counter medication and send in a follow up photo to see if this was working.

    This saved time for all and there is scope for AI assisted triage from photos

    But GPs can be very opposed to using email and I question whether CH is only encouraging them to stay in their comfort zone