Moving to activity based working

Northern Grampians Shire Council is one of only a handful of local governments that has embraced Activity Based Working (ABW).

The Council was recently recognised for this initiative through the LGPro Awards for Excellence.

On a limited budget, the Council undertook a redesign of the Stawell Town Hall, which already housed 50 staff, to make room for 25 staff members who had been working out of a leased space across the road.  

As part of the transition, new IT hardware, software and networking equipment was purchased; new ergonomic workstations and shared spaces were introduced; and lockers replaced under-desk drawers.

At the same time, it was decided to move away from Word and Excel products due to licensing costs and into the Google environment (GMail, Google calendars, Docs, etc.), to implement a new electronic Customer Request Management System and a new Electronic Document Records Management System, and move away from the security of drives and directories to storage ‘in the cloud’.

Four months after ABW was set in progress, staff turned up in January 2016 to a new-look work place (with 80 different stations to work from) and IT environment.

The costs and benefits of ABW have included increased collaboration, significant cost savings to Council, a reduction in paper and the need for printing because of electronic information sharing and strengthened work relationships.  

Mary Scully, Manager Governance & Civic Support said, “Anyone involved in change management will appreciate that ABW has had its challenges for staff and management, particularly at the start, but more than 12 months on we are about to survey staff to assess changing needs and encourage suggestions on how we can make it even better.

“We are committed to ABW, it has improved our ability to provide services to the community, customers get more timely responses to their requests, teams are working more closely with other teams which gives us productivity and improved internal decision-making.

“Other councils are watching us; we proudly promote our ABW environment to attract prospective employees to work for us; we believe we are ahead of the pack in regional Victoria with our IT systems and NGSC is a long way towards its goal to be industry leaders by 2018.”