The #OurDay challenge

The success of the LGA’s rather brilliant #OurDay initiative last week has been well-documented, so I’ll not harp on about its wider benefits and implications for social media use in local government.

But suffice to say it was the best thing we’ve done in a long time at Redcar & Cleveland Council, leading to some terrific results and, more importantly, us hearing the collective sound of eyes being prised open and pennies dropping across the organisation.

In no particular order, here’s a few things I learned from our bid to record a full 24 hours in the life of the authority:

* Caffeine is good – I took the midnight to 10.30am shift and then 9pm to 11.59pm, covering everything from school cooks firing up the kitchens early doors to community protection officers patrolling the streets by moonlight;

* Normal stuff is just as important as extraordinary stuff – the internal reaction to our appeal for help in planning ’24 Hours in R&C’ was overwhelming. I genuinely expected at least a few “stop arsing about on Twitter and get a proper job” responses, but got nothing of the kind. Colleagues, particularly those in far-flung locations or doing things you’d probably never associate with ‘The Council’, inundated us with details of their basic, day-to-day routines in serving local communities. “Helping stallholders set up on the market at 6am”; “checking the first ships coming into Teesport”; “removing a mattress and wonky old table from resident’s home” – we really did capture it all.

* Our contact centre is brilliant – dealing with about 2,000 calls a day from people angry at their parking fines, concerned about their missing dog, curious about the roadworks at the bottom of their street, annoyed at their noisy neighbours and so much more is not easy. The comms team tipping up, wreaking havoc and wrecking headsets probably didn’t help, but their call-handling success rate remained extremely high and they were delighted to see their work showcased on Twitter;

* Telling people that they’re doing good things is great. People were chuffed to bits when we fed back the #OurDay results and many teams want to work with us in a similar fashion on individual projects from their own service areas.

#OurDay also marked my 34th birthday, which I largely managed to forget about for most of the day, but then used as a fine excuse to sink a couple of bottles of Peroni at the end of the shift.

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