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HR Policy
To Be Categorised
Head of Workforce Resourcing and Relations
HR Policy Group
Director of Workforce
01 May 2024
01 May 2024
01 May 2025


NHS Fife acknowledges and agrees with the importance of regular and timely review of policy statements and aims to review policies within the timescales set out. 

New policies will be subject to a review date of no more than 1 year from the date of first issue. 

Reviewed policies will have a review date set that is relevant to the content (advised by the author) but will be no longer than 3 years. 

If a policy is past its review date then the content will remain extant until either such time as the policy review is complete and the new version published, or there is national policy, or legislative changes. 


The challenges faced by NHS Fife over recent years have necessitated adjustments to service delivery to provide effective patient care. At the heart of this response has been a re-framing of our thinking about how work can be delivered.

Agile working approaches have been an essential element of changes in practice and this policy aims to set out a framework to develop a culture that supports and optimises agile working. The policy also describes some of the practical processes and facilities around enabling this style of working. The overriding aim is to align any change to improving organisational performance and ultimately enhance patient care. 

Through the promotion of agile working, the focus should shift from time and attendance to a working culture that focuses on output and performance as much as time and attendance. 

There are several drivers contributing to the cultural development of agile working within NHS Fife: - 

  • ‘Once for Scotland’ Flexible Work Location Policy directs the approach to flexible working across NHS Scotland. 
  • Health & Wellbeing activity given the beneficial connections between flexible working and employee health and wellbeing, is a key benefit of developing agile working.
  • Digital Strategy, Flexible / Agile working will continue to be facilitated by recent developments and have shifted thinking forward in terms of what is possible and what can be achieved through rapid and sustained digital solution deployment to fully utilise digital tools to manage teams working remotely with the enhanced capacity to support patient care through digital engagement. 
  • Property & Asset Management Strategy, as we look to maximise our estate to deliver high quality patient care, we recognise there is an opportunity to consider scope for different ways to use our buildings and locations. Agile working will also form part of our response to the Climate Emergency & Sustainability Impact agenda. This will mean different solutions designed for specific functions and services and through adoption of this policy we will consider new opportunities for improvement, rationalisation and ultimately better patient care. 

The definition of Agile Working is not a prescriptive term. There is no one size fits all; it has common themes but is essentially individual and involves choice in the how, what, where and when of working. Agile Working is the term used to describe how employees can work from any location, whether it is from an NHS building, a Partner organisation’s building, in the community, from home or any changing combination of these if this meets with the requirements of the service being provided within the employee’s role.


The policy has been developed to consider the needs of all staff across NHS Fife, whether in clinical, patient-facing operational or support service roles. It applies to all employees working on board business at all locations where this work takes place.

It is recognised that a high proportion of roles within the NHS do not lend themselves to agile working, however, opportunities for agile working are not static as working practices change. Notwithstanding that many roles need to be on-site and in-person, this policy relates to all employees of the Board and all premises used by the Board.

The extent of agile working will vary according to the job role and the wider interactions with all stakeholders. The main considerations for agile working are the impact on access to services by the public, employee welfare, and fulfilling the role the employee is required to fulfil.


The responsibility for the application of this policy rests with Line Managers and employees.

Role of the Line Manager should: - 

  • Implement this policy fairly and consistently. 
  • Consider any impact on services, patient care and employees. 
  • Assess roles and duties to establish suitability for agile working.
  • Make sure arrangements are in place to support effective team working. 
  • Use discretion available to consider service commitments, existing arrangements, programmes of work, budgets, and health & safety, amongst many other features of the services. 
  • Carry out a Health and Safety Risk Assessment regularly and when any changes are made to the workspace. This must be agreed by the manager before employees will be allowed to work from home / remotely. Workplace / station ergonomic guidance / self-assessment used in the office applies equally when working anywhere remotely and should be used by an agile worker. 
  • Undertake a regular review of working arrangements 

Role of the Employee should: - 

  • Consider working arrangements that balance their own needs with the needs of colleagues and the service delivery. 
  • Participate in a regular review of working arrangements. 
  • Recognise agile working is a non-contractual arrangement that may enable a better work-life balance in some cases and is very likely to vary across different teams, services, roles, and projects. 
  • If working from home, even if it is only on an ad-hoc basis, employees must ensure they have suitable workspace with adequate security, storage, seating, space, and screening from noise in the rest of the home. There must also be adequate ventilation and lighting. 
  • Employees who need to carry equipment and documents must ensure they use suitable trolleys and carriers.

If an employee doesn’t have the facilities to work safely from remote locations, they simply should not do so and will have to work from their agreed work base. Health and Safety advice should be sought as required. 

For H&S purposes if an employee can’t work safely from remote locations because their specially adapted equipment is not portable / nor replicable they should not do so. Occupational Health / Health & Safety advice should be sought as required. 

The right to request flexible working is enshrined in legislation and covers a range of formal permanent / semi-permanent arrangements, such as part time working, job-sharing, split shifts or compressed hours which may be set out in an individual’s terms and conditions of employment. For clarity, similar to Working from Home, Flexible Working arrangements are governed by separate Workforce policies. NHS Workforce Policies | NHS Scotland 

  1. Operational System

As a new and developing style of working this policy will evolve following ongoing learning, developments in technology and change of use of the Estate. The policy supports the sharing of working environments and a move to most employees not having an office or workstation for their exclusive use., unless the employee requires the provision of specially adapted equipment or working arrangements. 

This policy provides a mechanism which will ensure our way of working contributes to many core societal and broad NHS ambitions: 

  • To improve our overall sustainability through our ways of working 
  • To work with partners and as an Anchor institution set an example 
  • To promote and enable diversity and inclusivity 
  • To contribute to the modernisation of our workforce practices 
  • To harness the benefits from our investments in technology

NHS Fife recognises the potential benefits of agile working for both employer and employee, these could include: - 



Increased productivity /efficiency which improves patient care 

 Potential for Increased job satisfaction, motivation and productivity 

Ability to support financial and resource efficiencies 

Better Work-Life Balance 

Improved utilisation of workspace 

Less commuting / reduced travel costs 

Improved sustainability in use of buildings / reduced travel 

Flexibility and flexible working hours 

Creates a more diverse workforce 

Improved wellbeing 

Continued support to staffs’ Health and Wellbeing 

Attraction and Retention of Talent 

Employer of choice / Modern Workplace 

NHS Fife supports agile and flexible working arrangements but recognises that process and approach to the adoption of agile working will be determined at a local level. 

Agile working solutions will be different depending on different functional / service needs, it is not about a one size fits all approach. Agile working solutions will always aim to meet personal and organisational needs.

NHS Fife will aim to offer agile / flexible working as widely as possible (where it meets enhanced patient care / service delivery). Equity is key and each service will require to work in partnership to consider the needs across its workforce. 

The aim of agile workstyles is about bringing people, processes, connectivity and technology, time and place together to find the most appropriate and effective way of working to carry out a particular task.

Agile working does not mean that service delivery is impeded in any way. Agile working should still ensure good service delivery. Agile working requires careful discussion to ensure that employees know what is expected of them, to ensure that there is fairness and equity and that working arrangements are safe. This policy addresses these issues.

Principles and Guidelines 

This policy is based on the following basic principles / guidelines – 

  • Agile working is thoroughly discussed and agreed as suitable for the work undertaken before any implementation takes place. 
  • There should be no service detriment, managers and employee should discuss and agree any changes that are suited to the job and meets the service need.
  • Performance levels must be maintained or improved with no detriment to the service. 
  • Where performance issues develop as a result of agile working managers must address them with employees and adapt the arrangements accordingly.
  • Although agile workers don’t necessarily have to work regular office hours, it is essential to plan and agree a work programme to ensure that contact/cover/accessibility is always in place. 
  • The arrangements should be cost neutral (except initial spend on equipment). 
  • Effective communication and management arrangements must be agreed, established and reviewed regularly to ensure effectiveness., as well as effective team working. 
  • Appropriate staffing levels must be maintained to ensure safe and effective service delivery. 
  • No team members should be adversely affected with individual agile working arrangements agreed with the consideration of consistent treatment of all staff within a service area. 
  • Health and safety must not be compromised. 
  • Agile working will not look the same for all services nor the same over time. 
  • Employees must be able to separate their working and home lives. They should mutually agree boundaries with their managers and colleagues and be jointly responsible for maintaining them.
  • Arrangements should be made for appropriate service cover. Core contact time and office cover arrangements should be agreed between the team and the line manager. 
  • Situations will vary from person to person but it must be fair so it is wise to consider the effect upon: 
  1. The ability to organise work among team members
  1. For safety, knowing where people are and what they are doing
  1. Organising rotas for essential services
  1. Work performance and output.
  • Managers should only stop agile working arrangements for appropriate business or performance reasons and after consulting fully with the employee. 

Practical Issues 

Employees who want to access the workplace electronically from home will need to have their own consistently stable broadband service. NHS Fife won’t normally supply mobile broadband (laptop dongles) for home use, other than by exception related to service requirements. For home or alternative work location working employees will be expected to have stable/consistent broadband availability to facilitate remote working. 

Travel time between contracted place of work and home will not be counted as work time. 

Other issues relating to allowances and related terms and conditions will be as defined by Once For Scotland Flexible Work Location Policy.

All employees will have a designated office base where their team is situated, along with shared workstations and limited storage facilities (electronic storage which is governed by a separate policy is becoming the norm). This base should be considered when making expenses claims, taking into account the employee’s home base. 

All employees should adhere to a clear desk regime as they will be sharing facilities with other employees. Lockable pedestals / cabinets / lockers will be available for personal effects as required.

With due regard to patient care it is important that all employees manage their travel in order to achieve the environmental benefits of agile working. Software such as MS Teams is to be used in preference to travelling to meetings.

Printing is actively discouraged, if there is a need to print any document it is expected that employees working remotely will use the nearest NHS facility to minimise costs. This is particularly relevant for bulk printing or postage as it ensures better value for money to utilise Multi-Functional Devices and site mailing services. 

Information Security 

All data protection legislation must be complied with in relation to the security of information. It is essential to read and understand the relevant governance policies to protect information. This can be found in the NHS Scotland Flexible Work Location policy Health, Safety and Wellbeing Self-Assessment: 

It is to be stressed, when dealing with personal information the same measures must apply to remote working as working in the office environment. 

All NHS Fife documents should be securely locked away and are only accessible to the employee or preferably only accessed in an electronic format in line with information governance policies and procedures. 

Laptops should be secure and locked when not in use and care must be taken of equipment, software, files and any other information to make sure it is not lost or broken. It is particularly important to ensure that other people (in the home or whilst working off site) cannot access confidential or personal information. 

Staff when working in a shared environment need to be vigilant in respect of conversations being undertaken and limit the ability for screens to be seen by others. 

Communication and Contact 

All employees are provided with appropriate IT equipment by their department to ensure that agile working is no different to working in the office environment.

Remote workers must be contactable exactly as if they were in the office and ensure they are available during contractual hours. Any adjustment to working time must be agreed with a line manager.

Arrangements should be made for effective communication to be maintained between employees, line managers, colleagues and wider stakeholders. It is essential for regular team meetings to be held in order to develop and maintain relationships either in person or via MS Teams. Communication and support channels must also be made available. Particular attention should be paid to the needs of new and / or junior staff. 

Electronic diaries are to be used at all times and they must be open for relevant colleagues to view.

Employees must ensure that their contact details are up to date, including the publication of all phone numbers. Up to date contact details on emails, messaging and the NHS Directory is essential. 

Any employee undertaking domiciliary visits or attending meetings must follow the same “lone working” principles that they would if leaving from the office. 


All employees who are able to work remotely will have laptops / tablets and appropriate software to do so.

Some workers may need to have extra security on their laptops. This may be when they deal with especially sensitive information.

Where employees have their own personally adapted equipment (e.g. left hand keyboard and mouse) they will be able to keep this for their personal use and move it with them when working in any offices or remote sites. Consideration will need to be given where staff have larger items of equipment e.g. chairs/monitors as this may impact on whether these areas are suitable for them. 

Evolving and Adapting NHS workplaces 

Over time workspaces will change to support the agile worker, this will be particularly apparent in new or refurbished buildings. Practical implementation of agile working spaces will be based on working arrangements / guidance such as those set out below. These are broadly promoted by Health Facilities Scotland and the Scottish Futures Trust; 

  1. Clinical rooms should not be used for general admin purposes. Admin should be undertaken in the agile work area to free up clinical space.
  2. Clinical space and agile space cannot be booked at the same time
  3. Provision of a mix of different work settings from desks to study booths, to formal and informal meetings spaces and casual seating work areas will be the norm. taking into account confidentiality, the need for readily available spaces across our sites for staff who travel throughout Fife with easy booking systems and the need for some staff to have specialised equipment.
  4. Only staff based in a site who work permanently from a fixed desk location as agreed by their line manager should be assigned a dedicated desk location. Most other staff are regarded as agile workers.
  5. Agile desk provision numbers are calculated on the basis of 5 desks for every 10 people, however, this may vary based on the work of the department and may also change over time in line with developing patterns of work
  6. Personalisation of agile desk spaces is not permitted as this designates ownership of that desk and inhibits easy sharing.
  7. The area allocated for the floor plate of agile workspaces will be between 4.5m2 per desk to 5.5m2 per desk. The upper limit would be for a smaller more inefficient agile work area.
  8. The 5.5sqm allocation includes for associated file / locker space / study booths, together with a number of breakout rooms to take more difficult calls.
  9. Breakout rooms would be circa 6sqm and are not lockable. This is to stop individuals occupying them as personal offices.
  10. Breakout rooms can be a mixture of casual use and bookable use. The former is for taking sensitive or confidential calls and the latter for undertaking tasks needing quite concentration.
  11. When workspace is completely open plan, then there is an allocation of an 1800mm wide circulation route through the space captured within the circulation area. This is over and above the allowance per desk.
  12. Desks for a fixed dedicated desk (non agile, e.g. Admin role) will be 1400mm wide.
  13. Agile worker desks will be 1200 mm wide.
  14. Touchdown desks, i.e those provided for staff who only need a workspace at the beginning or end of a shift will be 1200 mm wide desks.
  15. Fixed desk employees will be allocated below desk pedestals.
  16. Cube lockers may be provided for agile staff as required.
  17. While agile desks are open for anyone to occupy, these are loosely grouped to services to suit adjacency of files.
  18. Local or site “house rules” or “Office Etiquette” statements may be developed to suit the site. Appendix 1 gives an example which includes most of the essential elements around clear desks, noise, eating and other considerate behaviours. 



The key risks involved in the implementation of this procedure are: 

  • Occasional poor quality connectivity
  • Increased consideration required for induction of new staff 
  • Increased care required to ensure individual wellbeing and team cohesion to avoid isolation, reduced access to communal working facilities. 
  • Potential for lack of naturally occurring professional challenge resulting in poor decision, risk averse practice 
  • Increased consideration of non-NHS premises workspaces 
  • Cultural and facility mismatch 
  • Under use of booking systems resulting in inaccurate utilisation data
  • Lack of Confidentiality 
  • Prolonged use of non-specially adapted equipment
  • Lone Working Policy 
  • Home Working Guidance 
  • NHSS Flexible Work Location Policy 
  • NHSS Flexible Work Pattern Policy 
  • Information Governance Policy and related data / device management 

Appendix 1 



1.1 We all want to work in an environment that allows ourselves and our colleagues to function in a calm and stress-free manner, maximising our productivity. At the same time, we also want to work in a sociable place where knowledge and expertise can be easily shared. 

1.2 Open plan offices / shared spaces have many benefits such as bringing about a closer working relationship with colleagues from our own department and overcoming departmental barriers.

1.3 Sharing space is however an unfamiliar concept for many of the workforce and problems such as noise, distractions and the behaviour of others may lead to problems within the space if we are not careful. Mutual respect and co-operation from each individual working within an open plan office is important in ensuring a healthy working environment for everyone. When working in such an area we need to create a balance between being accessible to our colleagues and maintaining boundaries when we need to concentrate on our work in short, it’s about remembering to always consider others and give them the same respect and consideration we would like to be afforded ourselves. 

1.4 This statement can be applied to all open plan / shared workspaces. The purpose of this is to create and maintain a harmonious and healthy workspace for the benefit of everyone. It is expected that this statement will be welcomed by all staff and will be included within any local / site induction training. 

  1. NOISE

2.1 Sound carries easily within an open work environment, it can be distracting and affect our ability to concentrate. The following behaviours can help reduce interruptions: 

  • Use of headsets when participating in MS Teams calls should be the norm in shared offices; 
  • Moderating our voices to lower levels than normal speech, this often comes naturally, but we can all forget we are near so many others in open office environments, please remember, your conversation may be disturbing others, so keep your voice low, people do not always want to hear conversations and phone calls;
  • Please do not just shout across the office when you want a quick answer, we could easily walk across to our colleagues and ask, or even send an e-mail if it’s not urgent; 
  • Avoid using speaker phones and set a low volume telephone ring; 
  • If you have to use a mobile phone consider setting it to vibrate rather than ring, or have the volume set low; 
  • If you tend to receive a lot of phone calls as part of your job remember to switch your answer machine on before leaving your desk; 
  • Be aware that such things as tapping rulers, clicking pens etc can be distracting to your colleagues. 
  • Use the appropriate space, meeting, or quiet rooms for meetings or indepth discussions, do not conduct these around a desk in the open space area 

3.1 In an open office environment the discussion of confidential matters should within a setting that supports the privacy of that conversation. This will include meetings between staff members and telephone calls. 

3.2 Breakout / Quiet rooms etc can be used on an ad hoc basis 

3.3 Meeting rooms can be booked for any conversations that require to be held confidentially if there is no breakout or quiet room available 


4.1 Boundaries are the limits you place on the behaviour of others around you. We all have different needs for personal space and an awareness of other people’s boundaries and how to approach them respectfully will help avoid conflict. The following should help respect the boundaries and personal space of others: 

  • Do not assume that all staff have an “open door policy”. Don’t barge into someone’s office space without checking that you are not interrupting, a verbal “knock, knock” will be appreciated and look for go away / welcome cues from your colleagues and others sharing the space 
  • If you need some peace and quiet to read, consider using a quiet room 

5.1 Only appropriate employed staff should have access to the office. Any visitors should be within the space by invitation, or because of work, i.e. inspections, maintenance etc. 

5.2 The behaviour and conduct of visitors within the office will be the responsibility of the person who has invited them into the space.

5.3 It would be expected that any visitors would be seen within a meeting or quiet room. 

  1. SMELL

6.1 Pungent or bad odours are one of the most complained about aspects of working in an open plan office. The following should eliminate any problems associated with such problems in the work space: 

  • Practice good personal hygiene, particularly if you are a smoker or suffer from excessive perspiration. 
  • Keep fragrances to a minimum, what you might think is enough may be overpowering to others 
  • Be mindful that strong smelling foods such as some cheeses, curries, garlic, chips etc may leave a lingering smell that may not be appreciated by your colleagues. Smells from strong foods will also linger if they are disposed of in the bin. Ideally you should use available staff rooms and not eat at a desk. 

7.1 To ensure that the environment within open plan and / or shared spaces is kept to a suitable and safe standard that is acceptable to everyone working within in it the following should be adhered to: 

  • Workstations should be kept tidy and presentable, no personal affects,
  • Hot / shared desks should be cleared after use, the desk, telephone, keyboard and mouse should be cleaned using a wipe after use 
  • No data should be saved to the desktop of a hot / shared desk PC and users should log out and switch the PC off after use 
  • Waste should be disposed of responsibly in the appropriate container 
  • Each staff group are responsible for taking / collecting their own mail.
  • A shared storage should be used considerately 
  • A monthly health and safety / housekeeping check should be considered