A Unit of approximately 50 people within a Government Department needed to move to a much larger Government Department within the space of two months, an unusually fast time-frame for a move of this nature. This presented many challenges including: Different IT platforms in the original and new Department e.g. Google to Outlook Different pay scales and terms and conditions in the new Department Different processes and procedures in the new Department, with a more risk adverse culture Staff who had been through prior moves were suffering from 'move fatigue.' Heavy high-pressure staff workloads Requirement to minimise disruption to Ministerial support Merielle Ghali took a leading role in co-ordinating the move. Her remit was to act as the lead representative for the unit, advising and helping them to communicate effectively, and holding them to account. To ensure a smooth move, Merielle: Built relationships with key members of the new Department in advance Built change champions in each of the teams who were moving Participated in Director General level, and Weekly Change Team meetings and cascaded information accordingly Involved the Change Board, Change Team, IT and Facilities teams in weekly cascades to disseminate information and ensure direct two-way feedback Acted as a conduit between the Change Team and the staff affected by the move Tracked all aspects of the move, including FAQs, weekly updating and traffic light reporting The Change Champions were critical to the success of the move. Champions were selected from the Directorates of the Unit and were able to use their insight and networks to help Merielle gather and share information. Champions assisted on a practical level by owning logistics on move day itself. With an aggressive two-month time-line from announcement to move day, rapidly integrating the Unit into the culture of the new Department was it was a high priority. Merielle worked closely with staff to manage expectations, while ensuring that voices were heard, to reach sensible cost effective solutions. The two most challenging aspects of the move were IT and HR. Both were tackled with phased moves. The IT move happened over six months, so that staff could move to new systems gradually. Temporary wifi solutions were set up to support this, along with sessions with IT support and floorwalking. GOV.UK webpages were updated and Merille negotiated to have them set up as a stand-alone agency to future-proof the Unit for potential further moves. Unit staff were trained to upload their own content. Staff had concerns about differences in pay grades and terms and conditions across the two Departments. Merielle arranged opportunities for individuals to speak with HR to discuss concerns and understand the new working arrangements. Once individuals physically moved into their new office space, Merielle led on aftercare, managing queries and problems, with a list of live and often complex issues. One example was poor lighting, which required the procurement of special lighting. The Unit kept all records and logs to act as a blueprint for future moves. Staff feedback on the move was very positive, with staff saying that they felt wanted as part of the new Department. Merielle won two awards for her work supporting the move.
Since the introduction of fire safety laws over ten years ago, fire safety is a legal necessity, and most commercial properties in the UK are fitted with compliant fire doors. Despite progress in raising awareness and improving standards, there have been fatal incidents, where inadequate or poorly fitted doors have contributed to the outcome. In one tragic case, the inquest ruled that death could have been avoided (1), if a self-closing fire door had not become stuck on the floor, preventing it from closing. Correct fitting is critical to ensure that fire doors remain compliant and meet the appropriate standards. Tests to certify doors to a declared fire resistance period (typically 30 or 60 minutes) become redundant, if not fitted properly or maintained over years of wear and tear. The consequences for safety are frighteningly obvious – one incident highlighted where blocked exits and door faults trapped hotel residents (2) and there are plenty of video examples where door-sets fail to impede fire (3) as planned. The financial implications for the building manager and owner are significant with hefty fines for fault or negligence. Property management companies are held to account in cases where the council carry out inspections, such as Kier Stoke (4). However, the laws and standards can be confusing – and EU policy makers are urged to review them for the hotel and tourism industry (5). Alarmingly, statistics from Fire Door Safety Week (6) indicate that 45% of building managers do not know how to spot a problem with their fire doors.
This case study describes a long-running partnership (about seven years) between the then Director of Global Workplace Innovation at an international corporate, and the founder of The Smart Work Company Ltd. They co-created a learning network for senior executives and workplace experts. This met the needs of both the client (to identify themes for further research) and network members (personal development).