Researchers at University of Hull - Centre for Human Factors are providing vital support to local authorities, to address the challenges caused by changes in working practices resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centre for Human Factors’ mission is to make work healthier through addressing psychosocial risks to health and safety. This is through the use of evidence-based, pro-active and preventative approaches to tackling issues such as stress and fatigue, using systematic and robust methods of analysis to support organisations in understanding their unique organisational challenges and enabling informed intervention.
The aim of the award-winning 'Future Work Design' project was to provide partner local authorities with timely information about the experiences and perspectives of staff regarding the changes to working practices. Local authorities reported a lack of preparation in unprecedented times and significant challenges with transitioning to agile working. There was a commitment to assessing the impact of these changes on staff. The findings of the research would be used to inform the design of future working practices and consider the kinds of resources, training and support that staff and managers may need to support them in developing healthy and sustainable working practices for the future. The project received funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) via the COVID-19 Local Digital Challenge Fund, awarded in August 2020.
The four participating local authorities, led by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, covered a large geographical area within Yorkshire and Lincolnshire often referred to as ‘The Humber Region’, which lies on the North and South bank of the River Humber, on the North East coast of England.
The specific challenges addressed through the project included threats to wellbeing, peer relationships, the home working environment and separating work and home life. The intentions were to generate new knowledge about the impact of new working practices on staff, to develop a new risk assessment tool for managers and provide a scalable project which could be adopted widely by other local authorities.