Making significant, sustainable change happen across an organisation is hard. People in your organisation need to feel and see positive change for transformation to succeed. Working across the public sector, we’ve found that making changes to the common tools used by staff is a change that everyone can easily start to feel.

Making change feel positively different

We know that using open and/or web-based tools like Google Drive and Slack can have a large impact in shaping new ways of working and breaking down the silos inside an organisation while being cost and time effective. Ultimately, a low cost and relatively easy way to make the start of change felt fast.

Deploying new tools and ways of working across entire parts of government is still relatively unusual. There are plenty of examples of people working in digital government frustrated by the security blockers preventing the use of such tools and mindsets that seem less than digital.

The reality is that teams end up using tools unofficially and without the permission they need to get their best work done with the flexibility to collaborate and enable better communication across teams. Overall, this impacts the adoption of new ways of working across organisations and means any use of new tools is usually limited to individuals and smaller, siloed teams.

There are already success stories elsewhere in government. Paul Shelter shared how the first thing prioritised for internal IT at the DTO in Australia was to get everyone on Google Drive and Slack so they could collaborate in real-time. In the UK, the Government Digital Service set up similar tools early on to make sure fast, open communication and strong collaboration was a standard to which they would build all future ways of working. Despite the example of GDS in the UK, most government departments haven’t followed this example.

Deploying Slack at Homes England

FutureGov is currently working on a digital transformation programme with Homes England, equipping them with the tools and capabilities needed to transform the culture and position the agency as an exemplar of government in the 21st century.

Over the last four months, we’ve worked on a number of discoveries to help determine the direction of work needed across the agency, including improving employee experience to keep people informed and engaged. As part of setting up a new structure for Homes England Digital, we’ve been able to put a pilot in place to get digital tools like Harvest & Forecast, Slack and Trello implemented. Slack’s 2-factor authentication and supported with an introductory guide for everyone as part of signing up, helped to make sure the usage of the tool was clear, as well as meeting the needs of security and data protection.

The ease of use of these tools has meant they are being quickly adopted encouraging a number of other areas around the organisation to get on board as they see the benefits. This is still a trial period, but initial signs are that this is a huge step forward.

There’s now over 25% of staff at Homes England on Slack. It’s been remarkable to see the use of the platform starting to go viral, with new channels being created, new connections and most of the conversations happening in the open.

Homes England shows what is possible with the right mindset and priorities in a transformation programme. It’s enabling staff to communicate and work more efficiently, and, most importantly it’s a positive change that everyone is feeling.

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