Coronavirus (COVID-19) Staff Information

Latest staff briefing

The latest staff briefing is available below. Previous messages are also available to view.

Make sure you also keep up to date with the latest HR guidance and information.

SBScene staff magazine

A special COVID-19 issue of the staff e-Magazine is now online. Remember, you can view SBScene on mobile phones and tablets, as well as on PCs and laptops. You can save it to your device’s homescreen for easy access. If you need help to do this check out the video. You can browse through lots of stories in the different sections (listed at the top of the e-Mag).

Latest Staff Briefing 30 - Tuesday 7 July

I'm sure you are all taking some comfort as we see more COVID-19 restrictions relaxed and the number of cases across the country continues to fall.

I would once again like to thank you for all your efforts and flexibility as we continue to meet the demands placed upon us by this pandemic.

However, I must stress to you that we are by no means heading back to normal.

I have outlined some key updates below, which I hope you will find useful.

Working from home

The Scottish Government is continuing to ask people to work from home where possible even as lockdown restrictions are eased. Working from home (where possible) is still our default position and will be for the foreseeable future. This position is not likely to change any time soon and it is clear that there will not be a return to how we operated pre COVID-19.

We are keen to engage with staff to ensure you are able to continue working from home as effectively as possible and are looking to capture your views through a new online survey. We’ll share this survey with you in Friday’s weekly staff update.

A property recovery plan is being developed to look at which buildings will be reopened, when and how this may happen. The plan will be consistent with the Scottish Government’s phased approach in its route map out of lockdown. Until this plan is completed and agreed there are no plans to reopen any building or office accommodation that is currently closed. Further guidance will be issued at a later date.

In the interim, it is recognised that in exceptional circumstances there will be a need to consider how services can be re-established safely within Government guidelines and to look at any associated property requirements. Any requests to reopen offices and buildings must be channelled through the appropriate Service Director to the Property Recovery Group before a decision is made by Corporate Management Team (CMT) or the our Recovery Board.

No SBC staff should be working from an SBC or NHS building unless they have permission to do so from CMT or the Recovery Board.

Please be assured that these actions are being taken to ensure staff safety and we will continue to provide updates on Property plans when available.

Fit for 2024 and flexibility

We must continue to balance our response to the COVID-19 crisis with our recovery plans and it is essential that we continue to work differently in order to meet these parallel challenges.

We are currently revisiting our Fit for 2024 programme and in the light of COVID-19 we must continue to change and adapt, including:

  • More remote/agile working
  • Process improvements
  • Reduced staff travel
  • Smaller property estate

As you know we've used a flexible deployment approach to target staff resource at the areas of service most in need during the COVID-19 response period. The willingness of staff to work in this way has been both impressive and essential in our efforts.

Due to the continued response requirements it is clear that many staff will need to continue in their redeployed roles for quite some time. This has a significant impact on other services.

Combined with the major resource implications across a range of services as some areas move into the recovery phase, for example education, staffing is a major challenge moving forward. For example, we estimate that an additional 1,800 hours of school cleaning will be required per week. The average weekly hours of our cleaning staff is currently around 20 hours, therefore we may require 90 more cleaners.

I would also like to reiterate that where staff have been seconded to alternative roles, for instance in the Community Assistance Hubs, they will only return to their normal post when the response/support role is complete or a suitable arrangement is put in place.

Finance

We have made clear publicly that we have a financial pressure for 2020/21 of around £15m due to the impact of COVID-19. This is from a combination of loss of income and service pressures. This is likely to evolve as further information becomes available.

Finance colleagues continue to support all services as we review departmental income and expenditure, reinforce the freeze on non-discretionary spending and maximise delivery of financial plan savings.

CMT has begun an exercise to re-plan our 2020/21 revenue and capital budgets which will be reported to Elected Members as soon as possible in August/September.

Recovery

Our Recovery Board, as well as a separate Education Recovery Board, continues to meet weekly to map out how we can reach a new normal for delivering daily business. We are already making good progress as some services start to take positive steps forward.

The Recovery Board is focussed on:

  • Our interpretation of government guidance and their direction of travel as this becomes available
  • Providing appropriate corporate support to individual services as they start to recover
  • Ensuring we get consistent corporate positions for staff and service users
  • Ensuring we continue to sustain the necessary response efforts to COVID-19 and don’t allow recovery to undermine our response in any way

Please remember while we recognises the strength of each manager having the scope to make decisions for the staff they manage it is imperative that no local changes are made to departmental working practices without checking this fits with the direction of travel identified by the Recovery Board.

CMT continues to prioritise decisions that both aid our recovery programmes but also deliver our Fit for 2024 objectives. Only through combining our efforts to focus on both these issues can we be confident of both addressing the post COVID-19 challenges but also developing a financially sustainable and efficient service delivery model for the future.

Thanks again for all your efforts as we continue to navigate our way through these uncertain times. It is greatly appreciated.

Regards
Tracey Logan
Chief Executive