As Coronavirus keeps spreading, working from home offers many benefits to both staff and MPs. Flexibility, less commuting time, better work-life balance – but there are downsides, particular for junior staff or those new to working in Parliament.
When staff join Parliamentary teams, either in Westminster or in the constituency, they are often fulfilling a dream of being immersed in politics and helping those in our communities. Many of us can remember being proud to walk through the Colonnades of New Palace Yard or understanding the importance of an MPs work as we accompany them on visits in the constituency. These moments of reflecting on your accomplishment of securing the job balance out the sometimes-unsociable hours, the distressing and emotional cases you work on, and the abuse you wade through in day-to-day communications. But for those who started during the pandemic, their experience of joining has been different.
Although many staff are now back in their respective offices, lots have adopted a hybrid model. This is great for experienced staff who have established networks already and a good understanding of how Parliament works and where to go for advice when needed. However, junior staff are often missing out on opportunities of having experienced colleagues nearby to answer quick questions, provide support and encouragement and offer advice on better ways of working. Having to email or call makes an ‘ask’ bigger than it otherwise would have been and those ‘asks’ from the whole team can often leave senior staffers spending their day firefighting rather than concentrating on their own workload.
Parliament is a unique working environment – 650 offices all working in very different ways. Sam and Eve at Hive Support not only have the experience of working for MPs themselves, but also have a unique insight into seeing how so many other offices work and how valuable sharing best practices could be. Centralised staffing is something that has been discussed many times over the years, and whilst we don’t believe this is right for MPs, finding ways for Parliamentary staff to share their experiences, ideas and bring fresh perspectives offer huge benefits; not just to individual staff, but also the teams they work in.
Hive Support have recently launched a Research Mentor Group, with the aim of providing ongoing opportunities for small groups of Parliamentary staff to join with their peers on a weekly basis, guided by experienced Senior Parliamentary Assistants, to help them develop the knowledge and skills needed to progress in their roles.
Starting with a meeting at the beginning of the week to look over upcoming business, staff will be encouraged to horizon scan and proactively identify opportunities for their Members in the House, find information to feedback to constituents or casework staff, and discuss any hot topics in the news that might be affecting workloads.
These sessions will encourage idea sharing, personal accountability and goal setting, and help staff navigate Parliamentary processes and where to find resources and additional help.
For more information on how this might benefit members of your team, please email us or see further details on our website training page.
Hybrid working can be very beneficial to Parliamentary teams, but it’s important to have strategies in place to ensure staff are supported and have access to the training and guidance they need. Parliament has a very high turnover of staff, for many reasons, but to retain good staff we must allow them to evolve skills and knowledge and build their confidence within the team. Hive Support provides a range of training opportunities and we’d be happy to discuss your office’s development and see what we can do to help ensure you build a successful and happy team around you.