Adjusting to New Ways of Working

For the past week or so I have been working from home.

It’s had some interesting consequences.

First, and much to my surprise, I have got a lot of work done.

Answering the daily flow of emails is relatively straightforward.

It wouldn’t matter whether my computer was in the office, at home or even on the moon.

The emails come in and if I don’t know the answer, I can email someone who does, or ring them up.

I can also chair meetings remotely with everyone dialling in.

I recently held a meeting of the Violence Reduction Unit that way.

This would normally take place at the New York stadium, bringing together people from more than a dozen organisations from each of the four districts – Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley and Sheffield.

A conference call saved a great deal of travel time for everyone as well as helping to reduce our carbon footprint.

Everyone seemed to listen more intently on the phone – and we also finished ahead of schedule.

But there is one aspect of my job that is now seriously set back.

During the course of a normal week I will visit one or two local groups somewhere in Rotherham district.

The groups are of all sorts – tenants and residents, community associations, Rotary Clubs.  Last week I should have been in Kilnhurst talking with the parish council.

This is one way people can raise concerns and know that I will take them back into the regular conversations I have with senior officers.

It is also a vital way I hear about how policing is being done in particular places.

I will often pick up information I probably wouldn’t get any other way.

But if we are not going to be able to gather in these local groups for the foreseeable future, I am going to have to think about how I can remain accessible for people and how I can remain in touch with different communities.

What I am doing for Kilnhurst may be one way forward.

I have written to them to say I am sorry we can’t meet, but if they are able to communicate remotely with each other, gather people’s comments and queries, and send them to me by email, I will get detailed answers for them.

Where there’s a will there has to be a way.


Dr Alan Billings

Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire