Over the last 18 months, the term 'TW3' has cropped up in discussions about working practices and Civil Service reform. TW3 is ‘The Way We Work’ - our programme to develop smarter working practices throughout the Civil Service - which was one of the central themes at last year’s Civil Service Live.
TW3 is an attempt to break away from the old and accepted ways of doing things - the assumption that tasks must be completed in a specific place and in a specific way - and it also brings together many of the developments already taking place in departments.
The origins of TW3 are in the Civil Service Reform Plan, which talked about ‘Modern Workplaces’ and included the goal of “creating a decent working environment for all staff, with modern workplaces enabling flexible working, substantially improving IT tools and streamlining security requirements to be less burdensome for staff”.
TW3 has taken this a step further and has set out a new vision of the Civil Service, envisaging an organisation where people:
- focus on outcomes not process
- are empowered by technology
- work flexibly and cost-effectively
- collaborate more effectively with other teams in their own department and other departments
- maximise productivity and innovation, while reducing environmental impact
Realising this vision will mean making adjustments in many different areas - it's as much about encouraging new behaviours and changing attitudes as it is about altering the physical layout of working environments and technology.
Really effective Smart Working requires different types of behaviours and different expectations about how work is done. Managers need to be comfortable managing new work styles and in managing by outcomes. People need to understand the rationale behind the change and become adept at virtual teamwork. And everyone needs to be on board with the use of activity-based work settings in our new office environments. Let’s face it, we can throw all the new workspaces and IT we want at people, but if we don’t help them to work differently, we won’t realise any benefits.
Of course, trying to change how an organisation like the Civil Service works is a huge challenge. But we’re seeing great examples of strong leadership and commitment to making smart working work right across the Civil Service. At the same time, we recognise that implementing culture and infrastructure changes is not easy, in particular for those departments with large numbers of people or where people do jobs that require them to be in a particular place at a particular time. We’re working on that too.
We thought the time was right to start to shine a little light on TW3 and the great things being done by colleagues to make a real difference to how we all do our work. So today sees the launch of the inaugural TW3 Awards. Around 50 nominations came in over the Christmas period, for awards in categories including corporate leadership, workplace, technology and culture change. We’ve brought together a panel of some of the country’s foremost experts to judge the best of the best. I’m told the high calibre of entries made judging a real challenge, and this underlines the progress people are making.
We will be showcasing the award winners (and many of the other entries) in this blog over the coming weeks. While I think everyone recognises there still a long way to go, we are definitely heading in the right direction.