Change programmes should tie in with council building upgrades

Local authorities are looking for cheaper and more energy-efficient alternatives to shoddy buildings, and HR should look to tie in change programmes, experts have said.

Local Authority Office Accommodation: A Determination of Change, a survey of 86 local authorities by property agent DTZ, found 90% said they had portfolios of buildings that were more than two decades old, with two in five saying their buildings were in either poor or very poor condition.

However, 43% reported significant renovations over the past five years, while two-thirds said they were in the process of refurbishment or consolidation. And almost all the authorities who had made no significant changes in the last five years had plans for renovations, renewal or relocation in the next 24 months.

James Grierson, director of corporate consulting for DTZ, said council HR directors would be foolish not to implement change programmes along with the physical changes.

“HR directors need to relate property changes to wider concepts that many are likely already discussing around flexible working and workplace improvements,” said Grierson. “They need to see them as corporate change programmes, which have a considerable amount of potential.”

“Their projects could go terribly wrong if they are seen too narrowly as just property changes. If HR doesn’t integrate fully with other changes, in this case with the physical workplace, they run the risk of failing to deliver on the true potential of their employees.

Of the local authorities who felt their property was in good condition, three-fifths had conducted a major programme of refurbishment or consolidation in the last five years.

The main reasons for change were operational efficiency and cost reduction, while issues relating to headcount were said to be of little importance.

Earlier this month, property experts warned of sweeping cuts to workspaces to cope with the economic downturn.

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