Employer Stories:

General Teaching Council Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) embraced hybrid for good after months of home working during pandemic restrictions.

Arnold Clark Logo
Arnold Clark Logo

Employer Stories:

General Teaching Council Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) embraced hybrid for good after months of home working during pandemic restrictions.

Key takeaways

• Employees and their teams decide when they come to the office. There is no organisation-wide mandate on presence in the office unless there is a specific business need.

• Rules around flexitime relaxed, so staff trusted to work when suits them as long as meets service delivery needs

• Happier staff – feedback is overwhelmingly positive so far from everyone

• Attracting more diverse candidates for vacancies

• An opportunity to change up workplace culture and focus more on impact and output

Key takeaways

• Employees and their teams decide when they come to the office. There is no organisation-wide mandate on presence in the office unless there is a specific business need.

• Rules around flexitime relaxed, so staff trusted to work when suits them as long as meets service delivery needs

• Happier staff – feedback is overwhelmingly positive so far from everyone

• Attracting more diverse candidates for vacancies

• An opportunity to change up workplace culture and focus more on impact and output

What kind of organisation are you?

GTCS is an independent professional and regulatory body for teaching standards in Scotland and employs around 70 people.

What motivated you as an organisation to start your flexible working journey?

Our working culture was quite traditional before Covid, so the pandemic has been a brilliant opportunity for us to change.

Almost everyone worked from home during Covid restrictions, and there was no noticeable impact on service delivery. As we came out of lockdown, we knew there was no way we’d be asking everyone to come back to the office full-time, and we started exploring how we could work in a hybrid, flexible first way on a permanent basis.

How and when did you start introducing flex/more flex?

Flexibility Works supported us on our journey to greater flexibility. They worked with our senior leadership team and carried out a listening exercise with our staff to canvas their views and opinions, exploring how they wanted to work going forward. This feedback from staff, and the intel from Flexibility Works on what was working elsewhere, helped us shape a more trusting and flexible hybrid working model at GTCS.

We officially started our hybrid way of working in April 2022. We trust teams to decide their own protocols on when they intend be in the office. There’s no overarching rule on number of days, though we did discuss this. In the end, the feedback from staff, and intel from elsewhere, was that a more trusting and flexible hybrid model would be better.

 

Flex today – what are you doing right now?

As well as our new hybrid way of working, we relaxed rules around flexitime, allowing staff to work when suits them rather than specifying hours when work could be done, so long as this still meets service requirements.

But the biggest shift is in our culture. Before Covid there was too much focus simply on the hours someone worked. We know that judging someone’s performance on the number of hours they spend in an office is meaningless. What we achieve when we are at work – our output and impact – is what really matters.

What challenges have you faced?

Change is challenging for everyone and communication, particularly listening and responding, was key. We also emphasised that we would need to refine and evaluate our new ways of working, which helped reassure people. We needed to manage expectations that we wouldn’t be introducing something that was perfect – it would need to evolve, and they’d get a say.

Impact of flexible working

One of the main benefits for us as an employer, as well as having happier staff, is that we can recruit from a far wider geographical pool if people don’t need to be in the office very often. That helps with our inclusion and diversity aims too and will help us be more representative of Scotland as a nation, rather than Edinburgh where our office is.

The future of flex in your organisation

We’re currently evaluating how hybrid and more remote working is suiting people. We want to make sure we’re still staying connected as a whole staff team, and that we support staff wellbeing. We will soon be holding our first all-team in-person event and we will be asking for feedback from staff on how we connect, collaborate, share and learn best with our flexible way of working.

Through our evaluation, we’ve noticed that so far, use of our office is quite minimal (desk occupancy between 10 and 15%) so we will need to consider what that means for our office requirements as we move forward, and this might open up some great opportunities.

We’re also working on how we monitor and manage performance effectively when people are working remotely.

Top tips for flex

• Engage and listen to staff early on in developing different ways of working to help identify the solutions that will work best.
• Provide as much information as you can about what is planned. Regular updates from our project team to all staff with FAQs made a big difference in helping people understand planned change and feel assured.

“Changing our culture from one that was about hours worked to one that focuses on impact and output makes our people happier, and means we have a stronger focus on our organisational effectiveness.”

Do you need support with flexible working?

Consultancy

Go Flex - Flexibility Works

  • Go Flex – Our programme to help you create the flex culture you want. Includes working closely with senior leaders and staff teams, and creating a plan people buy into and that you can follow.
  • Bespoke consultancy – We draw on our vast experience to deliver highly tailored change management support including creating flex for frontline roles, trialling new ways of working, leveraging flex in recruitment and measuring impact.
  • Flexible working policy review – The UK’s law on flexible working changed in April 2024, we’ll help make sure your flexible working policy is up to date.

View all consultancy services

Our Training & Workshops Training - Flexibility Works

  • Flex for line managers half-day workshop – A fast and practical way to support your managers in leading flexible teams effectively, including how to handle flex requests that feel tricky to support, and workers who don’t want to come to the office.
  • Half-day workshop for hybrid teams – Free interactive workshop to boost wellbeing and productivity in hybrid teams.
  • Bespoke training and workshops – Tailored content for your organisation’s specific needs. Always interactive. Can stand-alone or slot into a team day or event.
  • 6 module hybrid training – For managers or whole teams, includes how to communicate and collaborate in a hybrid environment, how to motivate staff and ensure wellbeing.
  • Career returners workshop – For people who’d like to return to work after a career break. We cover workers’ rights around flex, varieties of flex and how to ask for it.

View all training and workshops

Flexible Working Accreditation

Policy Review - Flexibility WorksWe’re developing Scotland’s first good practice standard for flexible working that will provide a supportive framework for employers to increase their flexible offer and showcase their flexible culture.

Learn more now

  •  

Free Resources

Free Flexible Working Resources - Flexibility Works

  • Business case for flex (coming soon) – The hard data you need to convince yourself, or someone else, that flex is good for business
  • Case studies – Stories from employers and workers on how flex works for them.
  • Flexible working for managers and individuals - Our essential guide to all things flex.
  • Working well as a hybrid team (coming soon) – Our series of short videos for teams and/or managers will help hybrid teams work effectively and promote wellbeing.
  • Hybrid working for managers – Our practical guide for managers on how to approach hybrid and manage hybrid teams successfully.
  •  

View all free resources

Testimonials

Testimonials - Flexibility WorksRead testimonials from the businesses and organisations we've supported with flexible working.

Consultancy

  • Go Flex – Our programme to help you create the flex culture you want. Includes working closely with senior leaders and staff teams, and creating a plan people buy into and that you can follow.
  • Bespoke consultancy – We draw on our vast experience to deliver highly tailored change management support including creating flex for frontline roles, trialling new ways of working, leveraging flex in recruitment and measuring impact.
  • Flexible working policy review – The UK’s law on flexible working changed in April 2024, we’ll help make sure your flexible working policy is up to date.

View all consultancy services

Our Training & Workshops

  • Flex for line managers half-day workshop – A fast and practical way to support your managers in leading flexible teams effectively, including how to handle flex requests that feel tricky to support, and workers who don’t want to come to the office.
  • Half-day workshop for hybrid teams – Free interactive workshop to boost wellbeing and productivity in hybrid teams.
  • Bespoke training and workshops – Tailored content for your organisation’s specific needs. Always interactive. Can stand-alone or slot into a team day or event.
  • 6 module hybrid training – For managers or whole teams, includes how to communicate and collaborate in a hybrid environment, how to motivate staff and ensure wellbeing.
  • Career returners workshop – For people who’d like to return to work after a career break. We cover workers’ rights around flex, varieties of flex and how to ask for it.

View all training and workshops

Flexible Working Accreditation

We’re developing Scotland’s first good practice standard for flexible working that will provide a supportive framework for employers to increase their flexible offer and showcase their flexible culture.

Learn more now

  •  

Free Resources

  • Business case for flex (coming soon) – The hard data you need to convince yourself, or someone else, that flex is good for business
  • Case studies – Stories from employers and workers on how flex works for them.
  • Flexible working for managers and individuals - Our essential guide to all things flex.
  • Working well as a hybrid team (coming soon) – Our series of short videos for teams and/or managers will help hybrid teams work effectively and promote wellbeing.
  • Hybrid working for managers – Our practical guide for managers on how to approach hybrid and manage hybrid teams successfully.
  •  

View all free resources

Testimonials

Read testimonials from the businesses and organisations we've supported with flexible working.