Richard Kingston

An update from the Skunkworks

Posted Aug 29, 2018

​There’s been a lot of talk at work recently about hotdesking, particularly in the Workforce Mobilisation theme of our Digital First Programme. With that in mind our Skunkworks (innovation group) has been busy working up a prototype solution that can show where busy / free desks are in real-time, thanks to a great idea from Paul Bell.

Since taking that video, Aidan Minton has sorted us out with some labels for the units, showing that pressing the left button when taking a desk marks it as busy (red light) and hitting the right button when leaving free’s it up again (green light).

Pic of labelled device

Screens in building foyer’s and lift lobby’s can show webpages with live desk availability for the relevant floors. Dan Roddis is working his magic on these just now.

Pic of plasma screen showing floorplate and available desks

By using simple buttons as opposed to, say an ID badge scanner, we’ve kept costs down and built-in anonymity. We can track usage trends across desks, floors and buildings but purposefully not where individuals are sitting / have sat.

We’re hoping to pilot these devices over the next few weeks (PAT testing is booked for 9 of them tomorrow). The idea is for people to hit the red button when they occupy a desk for the day and then when they leave, hit the green one (they’ll all reset to green overnight if that last part if forgotten). Once we’ve captured some data from them we’ll make some informed decisions about what to do next - hopefully vacuum moulding some professional cases, and printing some PCB’s. Equally though, the data might tell us that there’s no value in them and that would be absolutely fine.

Pic of 9 devices running side by side

For me this has a lot of potential as a solution and more so it demonstrates the value of the #skunkworks concept within our organisation and within local gov as a whole. Made possible with superb support from Dave Robinson, Riley Marsden, Tracey Johnson at Barnsley DMC and Matt Brailsford at Barnsley IO, plus everyone who has been involved hands-on. It’s been and continues to be a real collaborative piece of work with all kinds of people providing all kinds of input.

EDIT 31/08/2018: Chuffed to say these have now passed their PAT testing so we’re free to roll them out and start a pilot!