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Ministry of Justice, Finalist 2012, The National Grid Best for Innovation Award

The Ministry of Justice is a large Government Department employing more than 70,000 people.

The London 2012 Olympics provided the MoJ with an opportunity to trial flexible working in an effort to reduce travel to and from London by staff. A short pilot was undertaken in February and arrangements were adopted during the Olympic Games period.

Building on a range of flexible working options that are already available, the MoJ agreed to encourage greater take-up of flexible working, and to relax the rules around some of the existing measures.  In the pilot, staff made a range of changes to their usual working arrangements.  Many staff who made a change to their usual working pattern found that coming in and leaving the office earlier than usual was the best option.  Both staff and managers found benefits in terms of work-life balance and being more productive. The main innovation was to allow more working from home and working from courts nearer their homes.  Staff found working at a local court, or working from home, was very effective.  The pilot highlighted some logistical issues with availability of IT and also challenged attitudes of staff and managers who prefer traditional working methods –  having people in their seats rather than working in different locations.  Overall the pilot was very positive for those involved and helped to highlight any issues around flexible working in order to address these prior to the start of the Olympic Games.

Monitoring the user experience, productivity and costs of the temporary changes will help inform longer term arrangements and will enable managers to ascertain the feasibility of adopting these on a permanent basis where appropriate. This is particularly relevant in the current economic climate; by 2015 the MoJ needs to have transformed the way in which justice is delivered, which includes spending less and finding different ways of working which are just as, if not more, effective.

The Ministry of Justice is upgrading its IT systems. This will mean more staff can potentially access IT at even more locations, giving them the chance to work closer to home (by being able to log on to roaming profiles). Similarly, it is stipulated that pool laptops are shared fairly and not just assigned to senior staff; this means the policy on homeworking works for all.  Not all staff have a job that naturally lends itself to working at home, or they may not have access to IT/laptops, but the rules have been relaxed so they can have a training day to access online training modules, update personal performance records, or work on other non-sensitive items.