Industry experience

At AWA we have been working with the public sector for decades. Our experience is both broad and deep – from ministerial departments to local policing. We understand the motivations and the importance of clear messaging around any change in government agencies. We support each public sector organisation we work with in their primary goal to serve the general public and help them to demonstrate fiscal accountability and transparency while working within regulatory constraints.

Industry challenges

Public sector organisations are as large and unwieldy as oil tankers. Consequently, efforts to introduce lasting improvements are hindered by the slow progress of change.

This is further complicated by constantly evolving political agendas. As part of the government’s ‘levelling up’ plans, several public sector organisations have recently moved from London to offices elsewhere in the UK.

These changes come at a time when the public sector is under increasing pressure to cut costs and adopt a more collaborative, performance-based culture that prioritises the delivery of ‘digital first’ results for citizens.

Attracting a younger workforce

Over the next decade, a large number of public sector workers are expected to retire, leading to a significant drain in institutional knowledge.

Many jobseekers perceive the sector to be bureaucratic, poorly paid and lacking in innovation. Some are willing to trade the higher salaries of the private sector for the job security of the public sector. Nonetheless, they retain a desire to enjoy the benefits of hybrid working, which is far more widely on offer in the private sector.

The government is insisting civil servants return to their desks full time in the interest of boosting the economy. This not only fails to acknowledge the wishes of their workforce, but also the impact such an approach will have on recruitment.


“We were really keen to understand how the learnings and behaviours of Covid enforced home working would affect the post-pandemic return of staff and in particular to our Sheffield campus as we have plans to restack and refurbish the office space. AWA’s detailed and in-depth engagement process allowed us to reach out to all levels of occupants and really understand staff perception on what will be needed to create a new working environment that would align with business requirements and where changes in behaviour, management style and space might be appropriate. Their insights also allowed us to create a blueprint of alternative space types that we’ve used to inform the repurposing of space across our nationwide estate.”

Steve Chapman Interim Head of Estates ICF Security, Estates and Information Directorate, Home Office

“We have worked with AWA for more than five years and value the collaborative partnership we have with them. They have supported the ongoing evolution of our workplace, providing deep insights and extensive expertise. With their help, we’ve been able to create a transformational space which supports our hybrid working approach and transforms our culture and ways of working to become more agile and innovative. This helps us recruit and retain the best talent, which supports our core purpose of funding research to save lives. None of this would have been possible without the help of AWA.”

Kerry Smith Chief People Officer, British Heart Foundation

“Leading a major change management project in complex international organisation is challenging undertaking. I knew it would involve multiple stakeholders, take wide-ranging collaboration and that we would need some expert, confident experience to help steer and deliver it. AWA has provided that, not by steaming in and dictating how things should be based on their ideals, but by listening to us, learning, understanding and advising. I have enjoyed working closely with them on this project. I have felt supported, they have always been available to discuss challenges and options and have always responded promptly, constructively and positively with solutions and alternative ideas for consideration.”

Tom Crame Head of Global Workplace, Amnesty International

“Mintel has worked successfully with AWA for over a decade on several major projects. We chose them for their expertise and experience at the cutting edge of understanding workplaces. They lead the industry with well-crafted research to understand the dynamic workplace landscape and help solve the real-world issues of operating successfully in a changing world. Along with data and insights they bring practical processes that involve everyone from grass root team members to the most senior executives, developing effective change to meet all parties’ goals. They have become trusted advisers around not only workplace matters but in behavioural change.”

Peter Haigh Chairman, Mintel

“AWA has been a great resource of global data and research for us regarding agile, hybrid and the world of working. They are responsive, willing to question assumptions, and work as a partner to help us make good decisions.”

Neil Austin VP Real Estate Portfolio Management and Transaction Services, Omnicom Group