Modern Working in Cornwall Council



The merger of the district and county councils in 2009 to create Cornwall Council presented many opportunities to rationalise services and review their building estate. To ensure they are fit for purpose throughout the 21st century they are modernising the remaining buildings, including the main offices in Truro. This involves a reduction in  the space available by introducing shared desks and drop in areas. These help staff to work effectively wherever they find themselves throughout the wide county area.

The Council recognised the need to change working practices and the culture to maximise the benefit of the refitted offices. They identified a range of development options for the managers of staff moving into the refurbished space, starting with a half day ‘Introduction to Modern Working’ workshop to signpost managers to further development. After a competitive process, Wisework were contracted to design six short workshops for managers, which would then be handed over to local trainers to deliver, within a limited timeframe, to coordinate with the office moves.

Wisework contribution

Wisework’s consultant held meetings with senior managers and professionals in HR, Facilities and Health and Safety to establish the requirements. From this analysis it became clear that the separate Team and Culture workshops were interdependent so Wisework recommended they should be merged. This left five workshops:

  • Introduction to modern working
  • Managing by outcome
  • Communication in the new situation
  • Building team spirit and creating and maintaining trust
  • Understanding health and safety responsibilities.

The timescales were tight so Wisework used its expert resources to design the five workshops in parallel, providing the Council with full documentation including train the trainer notes, handbooks and specific exercises. Since there was  extensive existing Health and Safety training and support already available, Wisework recommended that this workshop should be amalgamated with the existing provision, leaving four workshops to pilot.

During late autumn 2012 the pilots were co-delivered with the local trainers. The management cohort raised a number of interesting issues that identified areas where further work was required within the Council. Recognising the pressure on the managers’ time during a very challenging period, the Council have decided to amend their internal training to incorporate modern working wherever possible.  They will still be running a reduced range of targeted workshops to those who need more in-depth training, drawing on the Wisework workshop content.

Wisework demonstrated its customer focussed, flexible and open working methods by:

  • Offering professional advice, recommending amalgamating and reducing workshop numbers
  • Sharing its expertise openly and freely with both the project leader and the local trainers
  • Providing full documentation which the Council is free to adapt to meet their changing requirements without any further charge
  • Presenting options by sharing the experience of many other organisations, helping Cornwall to choose a solution which met their needs
  • Supporting the Council in identifying both what was needed and what was possible
  • Delivering a firm foundation for the Council to adapt to meet the future demands as the context changes.


As a result of this exercise Cornwall Council were able to implement their office rationalisation programme successfully. They were able to make managers aware that this was not just a real estate exercise but involved a change of organisational culture to accommodate new working practices. The workshops will still be run for people who need in depth understanding of the changes involved whilst modern working will be built into the on-going management training programme.