I’ve been following some of the recent tweets around working in the open in government, and interested to see Ben Holliday, Chief Design Officer at FutureGov, blog about how the DWP Digital communications team is semi-working in the open.

I’m part of this team, and know Ben from his time in the Department for Work and Pensions, so I was curious to read this:

“It has got harder to read about real service delivery in government. It’s not that this isn’t happening, it’s that government department digital programmes and communications teams, like DWP Digital, seem from the outside to be focusing more on their people and team values, rather than the work that they do and why.” …

I’ve just returned to work after 2 weeks of annual leave. On my first day back at work I deleted (almost) all the emails I received while I was away, without reading them.

It was liberating, productive and very enjoyable! But was it worthwhile?

Why try to tame the beast?

I was inspired by Ryan Dunn’s email fairytale, where he wisely suggested that time spent catching up on emails after a holiday was wasted time.

I think that conventional office environments feed the post-holiday email beast. It’s nurtured, encouraged and used as a badge of office. Many people are expected to spend their first morning or day after a holiday wading through emails. …

I’ve been the digital engagement lead behind bringing OneTeamGov to the north.

OneTeamGov is a community, united and guided by a set of principles. The community is made up of people who are passionate about public sector reform within and outside government, with the emphasis on improving the services we offer to citizens and how we work. OneTeamGov is working to create a movement of reform through practical action.

In my day job in DWP Digital, I design and run a range of internal and external engagement campaigns and channels, including events.

Being involved in OneTeamGov felt different, in a very good way. I wanted to share my experience to inspire other people working in public services to make time to do something different and get involved with OneTeamGov. …

I was excited about going to #commscampnorth and it didn’t let me down. It’s a valuable (and free!) opportunity to share ideas with public sector communications people from central and local government, government agencies and public services like the NHS and the police.

I had a hidden agenda too. My team is responsible for organising events and we’re running an unconference soon, so I wanted to learn how to do it well.

Pitching was well out of my comfort zone

When Dan Slee opened the day by saying ‘An unconference is about getting someone out of their comfort zone and putting them somewhere even more uncomfortable’, I was hooked and genuinely inspired. …

It’s been a year since I joined a team called Engage in the Business Transformation Group in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). It’s the best job I’ve ever had.

It’s challenged how I work, act and think. It’s made me think about whether communicators — particularly communicators in government — should be transforming.

I joined the Engage team because the challenge sounded amazing. Telling the story of how we are transforming a department as large and important as DWP was very attractive. And to tell this story against an undercurrent of cynicism, disbelief, apathy and entrenched hierarchical organisational behaviour? …


Joanne Rewcastle

Telling stories about communications and engagement

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