Weeknote w/c 9 December: talking mobile phones, counting votes, not getting enough sleep, but wrapping up with an awesome HackIT party

Thinking hard about the direction we take for mobile phones

In the summer I referred to the thinking that we’ve been doing to look at how we might change the approach we take for providing mobile phones. We’ve been developing ideas based on shifting away from providing a standard corporate offer towards extending access, reducing costs and reducing environmental impact through an allowance based model. Since then Cate and I have been engaging with services and staff representatives to discuss these ideas in more detail and decide how best to move this forward.

This week we caught up with colleagues in housing and also union representatives to discuss their feedback. To be honest, I have been a bit surprised to find that people are more reluctant to change how we approach this than I had expected. The survey we carried out in the early summer suggested that opinions were divided, but that many staff were positive about the proposals we were developing. But discussing it further with colleagues since then there seems to be more push back than I had thought would be the case.

In the meantime we’re continuing with the current model and reminding colleagues that we need leavers’ devices back before we can provide phones to new starters so that we are using the Council’s assets cost effectively. Cate and I will be taking some time to look through the feedback we’ve received about the potential new approach to decide what we will recommend going forward. I’ll keep you posted.

The HackIT Christmas party

Friday evening saw the HackIT Christmas party, a combination of karaoke, canapes, and good company close to Hackney Downs. There was a great turn out and one of the highlights for me was Colin’s brave attempt to get us all to do the Candy dance (no, I hadn’t heard of that before either…). Not having done this before I suspect that I probably made a fairly mediocre contribution to the team effort (there are rumours of videos… 😱), but fortunately a rescue party arrived in the form of the people in the room next door to ours who joined in and helped us all along!

A huge thank you to Cate D who got it all organised, to Colin for taking on the role of impresario with the karaoke and dancing, and also to Nigel and friends for the music and MCing.

Colin and Mal performing their rendition of Baggy Trousers

I also…

  • Spent time with Cate, Henry and Matthew looking at our medium term financial plan (the investment we think we’ll need over the next 3 – 5 years). This is an important part of the Council’s budget planning work that is currently taking place.
  • Caught up with Finance colleagues and Paul to run through the approach we’re taking to reduce the cost of productivity software across the organisation over the next few years.
  • Really enjoyed Monday’s Spacebank show & tell. It was great to see how the team are combining making progress towards delivering this manifesto commitment alongside providing immediate benefits for our users (staff and residents). The best bit was seeing how eager colleagues in housing are to start on the next stages of work with the team once the current work with libraries is completed!
  • Enjoyed catching up with colleagues at Camden on Tuesday evening. It was great to share our thoughts and experience from the two councils and I’m optimistic that there will be lots of opportunities to collaborate through our work as part of LOTI.
  • Joined a briefing on the Council’s pension scheme. Parts of this are a bit complex, but the overarching message is how important it is to make sure that you’ve taken the time to look at signing up to become a member of the scheme. Even with my advancing years retirement seems like it is a long way off, but planning ahead is really important and we’re very fortunate to be able to benefit from being part of the local government pension scheme.
  • Took part in Thursday night’s General Election count – my team counted just over 5,000 votes and we finished at about 4.30am on Friday morning once Hackney’s results had been declared.

Something I’m learning

Election counts aren’t great for getting a good night’s sleep. Especially if they land on a day when you can’t opt out of childcare… But I did learn that I was able to get through the day with just under 2 hours’ sleep (with an extra one hour nap in the afternoon) and still make it to the HackIT Christmas party!

I’m now going to take a weeknote break until the new year… Back to normal early in w/c 13 January. I hope you all have a very relaxing break and a happy near year!