For many years, Rainmaker has believed that work is about outcomes and not time and place. That realisation has been forced upon some organisations at very short notice. The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures being put in place to protect the NHS require very different ways of thinking about work. 

Local authorities, in particular, now face an additional set of unique challenges. Many internal and external services are delivered face-to-face and often require complex contact between officers and customers, residents, partners and suppliers.  

The differing types of contact to consider are:

  • Statutory (vulnerable people);
  • Transactions (births/deaths);
  • Interactions (consultations, advice);
  • Information (leaflets); and 
  • General services, including interactions with emergency services – Police, NHS, Fire service.

So much critical local government work assumes everyone is in the same room at the same time, looking at the same version of the truth.  They aren’t anymore.  

With face-to-face contact restricted, these interactions now have to be enabled by technology.  Inherent in this are assumptions about both the access to technology and the digital literacy of the participants, which may not be valid.

According to the Office for National Statistics, Exploring the UK’s digital divide report¹, the increasing use of the internet for local authority activities has implications for those who are not equipped to take advantage of this technology, or are unwilling to do so.  Whilst there is a marked increase in online interactions, as outlined below there are still gaps that cross geographic and demographic divides.  

Some LAs will face greater challenges in finding additional alternative remote ways to support residents, customers, partners and suppliers. For example, local authorities in Wales have a much larger divide to cross when trying to communicate with their constituents.  19% of the Welsh population have none of the five essential basic digital skills, such as transacting and being safe online.

Rainmaker has developed a white paper that explores these and other challenges and suggests high level strategies for local authorities operating in a post-COVID world. Download the paper here.

Please contact mark.compton-james@rainmaker.solutions if we can provide any advice or support.

Stay safe and well.

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