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The report here is based on the case study of the Luton Town Residences, where all the staff members are unsatisfied and unhappy due to the problems of their communication and collaboration system. The centralised email messaging system is the main issue where all the work gets delayed for missed due to the communication faults. The report below will focus on the key issues of Luton Town Residences, the requirements of the staff members for a new communication and collaboration platform in the association office so that both the software and hardware systems can be maintained properly. Following them is the potential solution evaluation is detailed for the issues raised in the case study and at last few recommendations are also suggested so that the working environment can be made better from the current situation.
Luton Town Residences is basically a housing association which operates its business from Luton with their central office located at Luton Town Centre. It also has several other housing blocks with two main split of their housing associations are General Purpose Housing and Supported Housing. Luton Town Residences works with their mission to proffers appropriate housing support to the local community and also focuses on assisting the vulnerables. This report below is going to address the causes of issues due to the collaboration & communication gap between the different teams of the association. The requirement of a new communication and collaboration platform in the workforce to remove the conflicts is suggested. Along with the issues, the potential solutions are also mentioned here with some of the recommendations for the solutions provided and the justifications for choosing those solutions are given too.
LO1: Communication and Collaboration Problems in LTR
Q1: Summarising the key issues causing unhappiness amongst the staff members at LTR.
The functions at LTR were running well until there emerged sudden issues in between the staff members of different teams working at LTR. This created problems, unsatisfactory workplace environment and unhappiness amongst the departmental staff members. With passing days, it became clear that the present communication and collaboration measures at LTR is not suitable and needs changes for an extended and prolonged working period. The major issues can be listed as-
There is a system of sharing the organisational information through daily basis newsletters where the prime information are often either ignored or missed by the employees. As suggested by Jacobs and Manzi (2020), this creates unnecessary daily follow-ups & reminders for the managers to make sure that the staff members get informed about the updates.
The common communication in Luton Town Residences is email, where there are several complaints coming from the employees that since the daily operations are huge so the employees are facing difficulty in managing such huge volumes of emails about every details received and sent within the organisation-wide (Iweka et al. 2017).
There come frequent complaints from the customer service team members regarding the difficulties they face every day in order to get the responses via emails. Late sending and receiving of emails between teams sometimes results in several days waiting of the resident issues and complaints (Gallent et al. 2017).
These are few of the key problems which need to be addressed with justified and potential solutions in Luton Town Residences housing association.
Q2: Identifying the different teams present within LTR and what different communication and collaboration systems/platforms they currently use.
There are two main separate housing association departments – General Purpose housing department & Supported Housing department.
General Purpose Housing department- This department is operative towards the set of four housing blocks that are situated in different locations all across Luton. Manzi and Glover-Short (2018) opined that each of the combination of four housing blocks has their own individual management operational offices handled by separate teams. McCrone and Stephens (2017) suggested that this distinctive functioning department is consisted of different three small operational teams of finance team, facilities maintenance team and a customer service team. When any resident faces any issues they first contact with the customer service team then the issue is passed on to the relevant members to remission. As stated by Watt and Smets (2017), each department works in separate systems for exchanging emails having information in them in the form of MS Excel and MS Word for accessing the documents. All the staffs have licensed access to work with Sharepoint server, Office365 & Office 2016 with restricted permission which is only for the employees.
Supported Housing department- This department have personal coaches for handling the issues of each resident personally and arranges all the needed support services. Charlson and Dimka (2021) opined that the personal coaches are responsible for keeping all the records confidential so that all the sensitive details must be kept safe and is not accessed by any other department. The personal coaches keep the record details under password-protected secured documentation system and further into separately secured hard-drives. Elsharkawy and Rutherford (2018) suggested that the personal coaches of each resident have been provided with subscriptions to Office365 for working. The hard drives have been securely kept in the Luton Centre office in locked rooms.
LO2: New Platform Requirements
The current communication system in LTR is having a lot of issues in it due to which there is a gap in staff members’ communication which ultimately hampers the working process. The meeting held on Zoom with all the company members identified the underlying problems and demanded their best possible solutions too. There is a list of requirements which are suggested by the different departments in their areas as well as collectively which must be addressed soon-
The General Administration staffs claimed that due to the constant connected- nature of remote work they have to do, they always have to be available in emails. It increases the emails load which is quite unmanageable (Gupta et al. 2018).
The staff members of the Senior Management department feels that emails is a very old way to use to checking constant updates of operations of various projects and issues and demands some new techniques to be brought in the system.
The Customer Services team complaint that they have to spend huge time in finding information and updating them in their own documents via MS Word and Excel rather than solving the complaints (sciencedirect.com , 2020). The late responses and time taking process allows the staffs to be productive towards their work and also often irritates the residents and presents a poor image of the association.
The Finance team complaint about the communication with their external team to be either not replied or takes too long to get responded due to the overloading of emails which hampers the internal team’s processing also.
The Facilities Maintenance have complaints about the email method of communication for repair and order woks is very poor and unmanageable form and difficult to work with (McKee et al. 2017).
Various other staff members are also complaining that the regular video conferencing meetings through Zoom Meetings method are very much lengthy, fatiguing and time taking. These meetings are often proved to be an utter failure to solve the issues and hinder the communication and collaboration issues also.
The different teams of both the housing association branches and the central branch members also find their current communicating and collaborating methods and techniques to be old, problematic, time consuming and less productive. All of them agreed with the same voce that new techniques and methods must be brought changing the old ones for a better collaboration and communication between the teams of the branches and departments as well as with the external teams and residents too (tandfonline.com , 2017). The new ways should be cost effective and less time consuming. There flagging should be done for specified or urgent requests or communications so that they could be noticed quickly and resolved. External teams must be allowed to communicate with both video call and telephonic calls for communicating. According to Manzi and Morrison (2018), the new platform must be nice looking with full data privacy, security and protection and also avoids data duplicity in the system. There also must present rapid guidance and support for technical issues fixing and problem solving.
LO3: Evaluation of Potential Solutions
This report where the communication and collaboration of Luton Town Residences association is discussed and it has been revealed that all the departmental staff members are unhappy with their current communication and collaboration system and everyone wants a new platform to be brought in usage for a better performance with their own specified reasons. The four new potential solution platforms Slack, Microsoft Teams, Flowdock and Discord are suggested for LTR’s system but each of them has its own benefits and disadvantages. After calculating all the features the suitable new platform can be chosen to make a better communication and collaboration system in Luton Town Residences in external and internal departments.
Charlson, J. and Dimka, N., 2021. Design, manufacture and construct procurement model for volumetric offsite manufacturing in the UK housing sector. Construction Innovation.
Elsharkawy, H. and Rutherford, P., 2018. Energy-efficient retrofit of social housing in the UK: Lessons learned from a Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) in Nottingham. Energy and Buildings, 172, pp.295-306.
Gallent, N., Mace, A. and Tewdwr-Jones, M., 2017. Second homes: European perspectives and UK policies. Routledge.
Gupta, R., Kapsali, M. and Howard, A., 2018. Evaluating the influence of building fabric, services and occupant related factors on the actual performance of low energy social housing dwellings in UK. Energy and Buildings, 174, pp.548-562.
Iweka, O.C., Shukla, A., Liu, S., Wernham, G., Hussain, A., Day, R., Gaterell, M. and Petridis, P., 2017, July. Introducing Novel Interaction Method for Investigating Energy Use in UK Social Housing. In 16th International Conference on Sustainable Energy Technologies.
Jacobs, K. and Manzi, T., 2020. Conceptualising ‘financialisation’: governance, organisational behaviour and social interaction in UK housing. International Journal of Housing Policy, 20(2), pp.184-202.
Manzi, T. and Glover-Short, C., 2018. Analysing involvement within the housing association sector–UK. Affordable Housing Governance and Finance: Innovations, partnerships and comparative perspectives.
Manzi, T. and Morrison, N., 2018. Risk, commercialism and social purpose: Repositioning the English housing association sector. Urban Studies, 55(9), pp.1924-1942.
McCrone, G. and Stephens, M., 2017. Housing policy in Britain and Europe. Routledge.
McKee, K., Muir, J. and Moore, T., 2017. Housing policy in the UK: The importance of spatial nuance. Housing Studies, 32(1), pp.60-72.
sciencedirect.com , 2020. Temporal optimization for affordable and resilient Passivhaus dwellings in the social housing sector, available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306261919320707 [Accessed on: 20th February, 2021]
tandfonline.com , 2017. Housing Policy in Crisis: An International Perspective, available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10511482.2018.1395988 [Accessed on: 10th February, 2021]
Watt, P. and Smets, P. eds., 2017. Social housing and urban renewal: A cross-national perspective. Emerald Group Publishing.
LO4: Recommended Solution Justification
The issues and problems which are discussed in this case report presents that the key issue is the problems in communication and collaboration. All the different departments are unhappy and unsatisfied with the current communication system of the company where the only means to communicate within and externally is email. All the issues are surrounded around the email system whether it is of the finance department or the customer service department (Killip et al. 2020). After analysing all the problems and the suggested solution methods, I can notify some of the recommendations which if followed then might do good for the association’s working environment and can make the staff members happy and efficient.
The primary recommendation is changing the communication and collaboration platform in the working system of the LTR association. The main problem in case of Luton Town Residences is found to be the email system for all the coordination and operational works. Since both the branches are inter-related with each other, the interaction system is also connected here with a centralised email messaging method handled by the top authorities. This is the reason why the emails services got hampered because all the emails are received by all the staff members including those also who doesn’t need those (Laguecir et al. 2020). This overloads the email server, creates miscommunications, key information got ignored or delayed responses comes and also the daily organisational newsletters are in such large volumes that the managers have to give daily reminders to the staff members because they misses the important messages. All these problems are making the employees unhappy so a new communication platform needs to be adopted for the official communication and collaboration (Marco et al. 2020). The four different methods are suggested above with different features, disadvantages and positive features. Slack, Discord, Microsoft Teams and Flowdock are those four new communication platforms. One of the four or more than one methods can be adapted in LTR.
I would like to recommend that both the staff members of the General Purpose Housing depart and Supported Housing department needs to be provided more better training programs so that all the employees can work more efficiently without stuck in one place despite all the hurdles in operations. As stated by Shamsuddin and Srinivasan (2020), the employability trainings will also improve the skills such as good communication skills, leadership skills for managers and team leaders so that they can manage the staff members within odd situations, patience, adaptability and reliability. There is more employability skills exist but for Luton Town Residences staff members these are the necessities. Westerdahl (2020) suggested that good communication skill is the prime skills in this case since all the problems are related with poor in-house and external team communication. Communication skills refers towards the capability of the employees to convey the messages and information in a clear state to the recipient whoever is required to get it and also takes acre that it should not be unnecessarily shared with everyone. Communication can be both verbal or written. In case of Luton, the communication is hindered because of the message getting shared with everyone. Adaptability is also very important to work in companies because it gives the power and strength to work in every bad situation turning it into good with a productive result (Laguecir et al. 2020). The staff members of Luton Town Residences are always unhappy and unsatisfied with their communication and collaboration issues. So if they got the knowledge that how to manage in difficult situation then it will be better for them to adjust till the setup of any new communication platform.
More advanced training sessions are needed for the employees of Luton Town Residences because they all somehow lack the skill to manage the situation even when it is adverse and give fruitful results. Moreover employability trainings give motivation and self-confidence to the employees (Nazir et al 2020). In case of Luton Town Residences also, these training programs will make improve the team work skill in the staff members. Teamwork is another thing which is missing among the LTR workforce which teaches that how to help other members in carrying and sharing the workloads and help each other in completing any task. Even if a staff member is not required to carry out a lot of team projects but it is important for each staff to be enough capable of working well with the other managers and team colleagues involved in any project (Killip et al. 2020).
Another recommendation conveyed from my side will be maintain a separate cloud-based server system in the company for resident request and complaints. As I studied the case a major issue arises when the complaints of the residents were not resolved within time and sometimes have been ignored due to the unnotified email messages. This somehow affects the image of the association in a negative way. So it must be taken care that there should be a separate server to handle and store the resident-related issues and request for a better customer performance. A good consumer image is the key to maintain the brand position in the market because if it gets damaged a little bit also with poor service, in no time the competitors will hold that place and the customer base also ruining the company (Marco et al. 2020). This will not solve the whole issue but could help in one side of the operations. And it is known by everyone that whatever the interior working environment is, the external environment should always maintain a stable image and good impact on the customers.
These are few recommendations according to my knowledge for Luton Town Residences to solve the issues and make the working environment a better place with an appropriate communication system both externally and internally.
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Marco, E., Williamsa, K. and Oliveirab, S., 2020. Prioritising storage practices: a new approach to housing design thinking. Culture, 6(62), pp.24-46.
Nazir, F.A., Edwards, D.J., Shelbourn, M., Martek, I., Thwala, W.D.D. and El-Gohary, H., 2020. Comparison of modular and traditional UK housing construction: a bibliometric analysis. Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology.
Shamsuddin, S. and Srinivasan, S., 2020. Just smart or just and smart cities? Assessing the literature on housing and information and communication technology. Housing Policy Debate, pp.1-24.
Westerdahl, S., 2020. Yield and the city: Swedish public housing and the political significance of changed accounting practices. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, p.102161.
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