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Changing the way government works

UK government issues guidance on Smart Working for the Civil Service

The changing nature of work is having a profound effect on one of the UK’s biggest employers – government.

New guidance being launched at a series of Civil Service Live events in June and July is promoting a quiet revolution in the way government works. The Way We Work – A Guide to Smart Working in Government sets out a vision for government that incorporates much more mobility and flexibility, electronic processes, online collaboration and virtual meetings.  Fewer offices are used more intensively, and they are redesigned so that people work in a range of settings for different activities rather than ranks of individually assigned desks.

The aim is greater effectiveness and much more efficient use of resources – and therefore of taxpayers’ money. All this is central to the government’s Efficiency and Reform programme.

Key principles of Smart Working in central government include

  • Work takes place at the most effective locations and times – not necessarily in the office
  • The traditional meetings culture is replaced by “simplified collaboration and connectivity virtually everywhere”
  • A Flexibility First approach with flexibility as the norm rather than the exception
  • Space is allocated to activities, not individuals and not on the basis of seniority
  • Managing performance focuses on results and outcomes rather than presence.

This is not simply aspiration. The Guide includes 10 case studies from government departments that are making significant progress in Smart Working. They cover examples of modernised ways of working using new technologies, mobile and home-based working, innovative Smart Working environments, and significant reductions in costs and in the carbon footprint of work.

Coming next will be more in the way of sharing premises between departments and with other public sector agencies around the country, with public sector ‘hubs’ and possibly the use of private sector workhubs and co-working spaces too.


The Way We Work - Guide to Smart Working in Government

July 2014

Further information

The Way We Work – A Guide to Smart Working in Government is based on Flexibility.co.uk's Smart Working Handbook.

Commissioned by the UK Cabinet Office, it was written by Andy Lake, working with the Cabinet Office 'The Way We Work' (TW3) programme.

The programme is part of the Efficiency & Reform programme headed up by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude.

To find out more about the guide, contact Andy Lake.

Download the Guide to
Smart Working in Government

Full version, with case studies - 5MB

Summary version - 3.5MB






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