Changemakers support move to smarter working

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spoke recently about how they moved to a smarter working culture and how trained champions within the department have helped to achieve this.

Image of people at work in the background with technology overlay indicating techposter syndrome


How can you accelerate and support a move to hybrid working? For the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport having trained champions embedded in teams across the organisation is vital.

In 2019 and 2020, DCMS worked with Bridget Workman from the Changing Work Company who rolled out a 10-week  interactive learning and development programme to employees who applied to be Smart Working ‘Changemakers’. The Changemakers provide support and advice for those implementing a more flexible culture.

DCMS has long been an advocate of smarter, more collaborative, autonomous ways of working. The Government wants all its departments to be implementing smart working by the end of next year and DCMS is ahead of the rest and also aims to be the most diverse government department, and smarter working should enable this.

Laura Carruthers told the Smart Working Network last week how she had applied to be a Changemaker and had undergone training with Bridget in techniques to help people work differently and adapt to smarter ways of working – something that had been particularly useful during the Covid pandemic. The training included exposure to other organisations which had rolled out smart working as well as four workshops exploring change leadership and best practice.

“Everyone was very passionate about change,” she said. She says the programme “is by far one of the best personal development experiences I have been lucky enough to experience in my career to date; a thoroughly well-informed, thought-provoking and interactive experience, with a focus on empowering participants to enact the change they wish to see within their teams”.

Smart working culture

Her work supported the wider cultural change at the department. There are 64 teams in DCMS and they were all involved in the change process through TeamTalk sessions. Each team had an opportunity to discuss how and where they wanted to work. This provided a rich seam of data and is still feeding into future ways of working. Technology such as Slido and word clouds was employed so that team leaders could see the breadth of ideas and opinion about culture change. The process showed that employees had confidence in how the department was carrying forward the smarter working benefits of Covid.

There were also sessions on smart working at departmental staff conferences. At one session, over 200 staff contributed to a discussion about what DCMS should look like in 2025. This touched on everything from diversity and inclusion issues to new roles that might be needed.

Carruthers says Covid has sped up the process, moving the department from a London-centric approach to remote induction with smart working and freedom to choose where to work at the core. The plan for the future is to make the process hybrid with some in-person element.

The Smart Work Network heard that the DCMS could not have moved so smoothly towards smart working without senior leadership buy-in and support, role modelling by managers, a framework for line managers and a designated transformation team which covered the operational and design tools elements. Every member of staff has their own laptop so they can be mobile and the experience of the last months has set the department up well for the opening of their new Manchester office where creative, collaborative spaces are key.

Asked about the time taken to train to be a Changemaker, Carruthers replied that it was flagged at the beginning, but that the department had got that time back “in spades”. “There was initial apprehension from my team, but it paid dividends when we had to adapt to change so quickly,” she said.

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