The short sightedness and plain idiocy that emerges when the higher echelons of management in Local Authorities attempt to cut costs really seem to know no bounds. Take the issue of hot-desking for example. This issue came up in an Article published by The Guardian
where Prof. Eileen Munro looked at the impact this was having. To quote from the article
"the spread of hot-desking was a prime example of how managers of council social work teams failed to understand the nature of the job. It was vital that social workers returning to the office from a home visit were able to discuss their reflections with trusted colleagues, yet nowadays they often could not find either a quiet space or their colleagues.
Unable to share their concerns and test their assessments, social workers were taking their anxieties home with them and “starting to get burnout”
This is a classic example of un-joined up thinking where those at the top making decisions based on cost fail to consider the impact of their decisions. The rather simplistic but superficially attractive line of thinking goes thus… if a line of cost can be removed from the total costs then they will "hey presto" save money. However what this simple town accountancy led approach means is that additional costs that arise from that same decision are not factored in. This approach does not measure the cost of a Social worker having to leave the office to have private conversations, the cost of the time wasted when a worker is unable to get the use of a desk when it is required. It does not measure the extra sick day that this strategy leads to. http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2015/dec/08/mission-impossible-on-a-daily-basis-the-real-effect-of-spending-cuts-on-social-work
In the most recent Guardian Social Lives survey, 57% of respondents said hot-desking was not beneficial for working with colleagues. This was backed up by findings from the British Association of Social Workers’ survey, which found that 66% of respondents were having to use their cars for confidential conversations with service users and 70% did not have a quiet environment suitable for writing reports.
“We have six seats for 11 people,” says Sarah Grade*, a children and families social worker based in south London. “By about 9.40am you would struggle to find somewhere and by 11 you’ve no chance.”
So why do senior managers much such idiotic mistakes
They are looking for quick wins and downsizing officer space is a relatively quick win which can be done without cutting front line services
The budget horizon extends to the next quarter so additional costs that arise after that point are immaterial
They fail to understand the nature of social work which is a joined up seamless service and see it as a series of separate unit costs which can be trimmed. The temptation thus is to cut the costs in one area without considering the impact on other areas
However if you really want to see the advantages that apparently pertain to hot-desking look at how many of those that make the decision for others to hot desk do so themselves. My bet is that over 90% of decision-makers are very happy with their own desk Thank You very much. And of course their job is far more business critical than a mere social workers.