Future Work Design


  1. Project outputs
  2. Project timeline

This project conducted a study into the effects of remote working on council staff and was led by East Riding of Yorkshire Council in partnership with Hull City Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and North Lincolnshire Council, and supported by The Centre for Human Factors at the University of Hull.

The study looked at the impact on staff working remotely or from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, it looked at the effects on staff health and wellbeing and their productivity.

Watch the team’s lightning talk during Digital Leaders Week 2021:

Project outputs

The project outputs include:

  • A research report (PDF) into remote working challenges in local government, which contains nine working practice profiles for council staff working in different contexts.
  • A risk assessment tool (PDF) that’s ready to be used by HR/OD and corporate teams.
  • Guidance (PDF) on how to use the risk assessment tool in practice.

Project timeline

August 2020

The Future Work Design project receives £76,000 from the Local Digital C-19 Challenge.

February 2021

The project receives £110,000 of follow-on funding from the Local Digital Fund to continue their work.

Building on the first phase, this next phase will see the stress risk assessment tool rolled out to the 4 partner councils. Researchers from the University of Hull will analyse the results and identify organisational needs.

At the same time, the project team will work with Microsoft to test the effectiveness of Office 365 wellbeing and productivity tools in practice. Ultimately, they hope to be able to direct staff towards the existing wellbeing tools that meet their needs (determined through the survey), and to illustrate where there are gaps.

Separately, the Risk Assessment tool is being made available nationally via the UK Health and Safety Executive.

Read more about Phase 2 of the project in this blog post.

April 2021

The Future Work Design project team kicked off their current phase of work and published a new blog post, ‘The Start of Future Work Design: Phase Two’, on their website.

Eddie Niblett (East Riding of Yorkshire Council), project lead, spoke on Great Yorkshire Radio about Future Work Design. Listen to a recording of the show on their website.

The team also started working with Microsoft to identify tools that will support them in their next phase of research.

The pilot groups for this phase of research started to be defined.

May 2021

The team spent May working on finalising their DPIA’s so that they could start recruiting their research participants.

They also published a blog with an update on the phase so far.

June 2021

The team gave a presentation about the project during the Digital Leaders Week Lightning Talk session (skip to 12:37 minutes).

Eddie Niblett (East Riding of Yorkshire Council) gave a presentation about the project for Microsoft’s Envision event. Michelle Mulder from Microsoft also wrote a blog about working with the team on this phase of the project.

The DPIA’s were all approved and the team started to recruit participants for their research.

The project team also nominated themselves for an LGC Partnership Award.

July 2021

Future Work Design were shortlisted as finalists in the LGC awards. They have been included in the ‘Digital Impact’ category for phase 1 of the project.

The team finished recruiting their research participants and up-skilled the participants through MyAnalytics learning.

The team attended a Theory of Change meeting with Jamie, the Local Digital Collaboration Unit’s Economist, who discussed their Monitoring and Evaluation and the project outputs.

They also published a blog about the interviews the team were involved in recently.


August 2021

The project entered their 8-week ‘intervention’ period with their research participants.

During this period the participants received daily insights into their working habits, which was designed to help them to reflect and make changes where necessary to support their wellbeing. During this intervention period the participants completed daily diaries to help the University identify the challenges and benefits people face on a daily basis.

The team also published a new blog post about their usage of social media on the project, and another blog post to provide an update on their progress so far during phase 2.

September 2021

Project Lead, Eddie Niblett (East Riding of Yorkshire Council), and Occupational Psychologist, Fiona Earle (University of Hull), presented to the LGC awards finalist panel.

The team also published a blog post which detailed a recent research participant’s feedback about how using Microsoft My Analytics has made their working habits clearer.

November 2021

The team won at the LGC awards under the ‘Digital Impact’ category for phase 1 of the project.

The 8 week ‘intervention’ came to an end. The University then ran 8 focus groups with staff from all four local authorities, from both the control and intervention group.

The team also presented at the annual iNetwork conference on 18 November to share their work from Phase 1.

December 2021

The University is now analysing the research data .They are hoping to have their phase 2 report finished by January 2022.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is due to roll out the Risk Assessment tool from phase 1 in January.