Mobile Working: The Road to Success
Published by Michael Ord for South Tyneside Homes in Housing and also in Communities
A member of Property Services workforce using a handheld computer.
South Tyneside Homes is delighted that a Mobile Working system for its Property Services operatives is proving to be a huge success.
Tradespersons for the Property Services Section of the company that manages and maintains the Council’s 18000 homes in the borough are now using handheld PDA devices which provide them with all of the details required to complete repairs for tenants at the agreed appointment time.
Director of Investment Mark Whittle says, “A lot of companies use handhelds which simply provide lists of jobs to be completed. We decided to combine the use of our handheld devices with an Opti-Time system that provides a smart diary method, driven by postcodes, which provide our tradespersons with one job at a time - ensuring that on most occasions we can stay with our tenants until the work is fully complete. We can also fit in with the tenants’ requirements by offering appointment times convenient to them, including times around the school-run, evenings and even Saturday mornings. “
The system was first introduced in the company two years ago and has been rolled out to all the relevant teams over that time. The advantages have proven to be manifold, including reduced travel time, a more efficient use of resources, the capacity for operatives to stay at the customer’s home until the job is complete on most occasions and the opportunity for vans to restock their supplies less frequently as part of the normal working week.
Mark Whittle adds, “The results have been very positive. We’ve saved £55,000 per year on fuel costs, and made a 30% reduction in Repairs staff that we’ve been able to re-channel to Decent Homes or Programmed works. We’ve been able to complete 98.38% of responsive repairs that have been made by appointment, with over 99.8% within Government time limits. Our satisfaction rate for responsive repairs has risen to 9.43 out of 10, which is an excellent record for an organisation that completes over 100,000 repairs a year.”
The improvements are being acknowledged by the tenants themselves, who are paying the service compliments. Mrs Linda Dixon of Drummond Crescent, South Shields, says, “I’ve recently had a few jobs done – the workmen came on time – a man came to repair the back door and there have been no problems since. I reported a heating repair and they were absolutely amazing – and with recent brickwork, I’m very pleased with the job. I certainly have no complaints.”
The company is now also using the Mobile Working system as part of its Empty Homes procedure in both the Jarrow and Hebburn area and will be rolling it out for the rest of the borough this summer.
Mark Whittle says, “Our values include using resources prudently as well as delivering excellent services, and thanks to the improvements this system has introduced we’re pleased to be doing both of those things.”