Positive impacts of the changes
Public Service Hub
The new design of the public service hub is just one element of the work that is happening to improve the customer experience. Key benefits to customers will include:
- A nicer environment with better facilities.
- A more accessible environment for disabled customers, staff and visitors.
- More customer enquiries being resolved at the first point of contact.
- The ability for us to see more customers at any one time.
- Access to more services in one place. The ultimate vision is to provide access to all customer-facing council services as well as access to a wide range of services from other public organisations.
The development of the public service hub is part of the ongoing story of customer service improvements at Manchester City Council. The new Customer Service Centre at One First Street was one of the first parts of the customer service strategy to be delivered, and this was followed by Contact Manchester, the telephone contact centre.
See more information on the proposals to transform Central Library
Transforming working practices
It is recognised that the design of workspace for the office staff who work behind the scenes is now more important than ever to improve service performance. The redesign of our work environment will help us to transform the way we operate. It's vital that we take this opportunity to change the way we do some things and start to embed new ways of working into our everyday life.
The key principles of the new ways of working are:
- Flexibility: the accommodation will provide productive modern working environments that are flexible enough to meet the needs of an evolving Council well into the 21st century.
- Interaction and communication: the accommodation will improve staff interaction and interdepartmental working, leading to improved effectiveness and efficiency in service provision.
- Technology enabled: the accommodation will provide easy to use, cost effective integrated technology that empowers our staff and partners in providing innovative high quality services to our customers.
The Council has committed to reduce its carbon footprint and through the design and behavioural change, this refurbishment aims to see a 41% carbon reduction across the Town Hall Extension and Central Library. Planning requirements also demand that at least 20% of the final site energy use to be from renewable or low carbon generation. These two targets will be met by eliminating energy demand where possible through careful building design, choosing low energy building services and energy efficient items such as intelligent lighting systems. Other proposals to reduce the environmental impact of the buildings include rain water harvesting, use of only A rated (or better) office equipment in the refurbishment and improvements to the waste recycling targets.
In addition, we aim to enhance the site's biodiversity, in terms of the number of species that choose the site as a suitable habitat. This is primarily through the inclusion of a 'biodiverse roof' on the Town Hall Extension, which is attractive habitat for the Black Redstart.
Sustainability means making decisions considering the economic, social and environmental impacts and these factors have been included in a number of different aspects of the refurbishment. We will look to use sustainable sources or recycled materials from local sources wherever possible. We are also aiming to create an improved working and visitor environment by facilitating healthy choices in food, transport and working practices. In order to achieve this aspiration, the transformation team is working closely with existing Council teams, so that the final refurbishment is suitable for staff and customers and offers a long term, sustainable solution.
Throughout all our work, we are aiming for a BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating of very good, BREEAM is the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings. It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become a common measure used to describe a building's environmental performance. Preserving the heritage of the two buildings is also an important element to consider, which can constrain the design choices. We have therefore taken a holistic approach to sustainability, measuring the success of the refurbishment not just against the BREEAM score but a wider range of sustainability targets.
Premises costs represent a significant cost to the council, second only to staffing. The purpose of any office accommodation refurbishment, including this one is to provide both a better working environment for staff but at the same time provide significant efficiency savings from more effective use of space.
An example of this is that we know that many of our employees do not need their desks all day every day, whether that is because they are out and about meeting customers, attending training or on annual leave. Therefore, we are adopting more flexible working practices that mean we use less desks. This, combined with the more open design of the offices, means we can house more staff in the Town Hall extension. This will result in us withdrawing from a number of city centre offices that we lease, providing annual revenue savings in rent, service charges, business rates and running costs.
This model will then be replicated in wards across the city, and even more savings can be made by making better use of our city-wide accommodation portfolio.