The average municipality will change drastically in the future due to aging, cultural diversity and regionalizing, among other modifications. That is the case with one of our clients, the municipality of Utrecht. In order to involve their citizens as much as possible in developments, Utrecht broadcasts all council meetings live via the internet. These live streams are coupled to the available documents, allowing viewers to directly see relevant records on the screen. The live stream is part of Utrecht’s transition to digital meetings.
Leap to digital
Utrecht Municipality has been holding digital meetings since 2013. They were initially established to save time during, and in preparation for, the meetings. Before this meetings were planned via Outlook and the accompanying documents printed or dispersed by e-mail. Adam Golombek, Utrecht city’s information and process manager, decided that this should be modernized. “In 2013 we took the leap and went digital. Meetings are now planned much more efficiently and paper consumption is also drastically reduced.”
Current and well equipped
The further advantages of paperless meetings were quickly apparent. Agendas and documents are now available from every location, 24/7. Therefore employees arrive at the meeting current and up-to-date, with all of the history, decisions and action points at their fingertips. The mayor and aldermen of Utrecht were the first to receive their own devices. In the beginning it took some time for the legal advisors to get accustomed to the system, but by now a tablet has replaced reams and reams of paper.
Utrecht Municipality has also moved to a smaller location. Therefore, a number of employees can no longer work at the office. 30% of the employees work remotely then, also a trend in other municipalities. Digital meetings mesh seamlessly with this increase in telecommuting. After all, since employees have unlimited access to the meeting materials, they are no longer restricted to seeing them at the office.
In the vastly changing world of municipalities, the following meeting tips help to provide an overview:
- Use administrative planning: plan the files to spread meetings evenly throughout the whole year;
- Publish the agenda and materials on time, facilitating simplicity in delivery;
- Assess the items that have already been approved and include the most possible ‘rubber stamp’ items and others that just need formal acceptance;
- Schedule time for each agenda point, so that the meeting doesn’t run over the allotted time;
- Document action points and decisions clearly during the meeting and distribute these immediately to the participants to prevent misunderstandings.
Would you like more tips for enhanced meetings? A digital case study concerning the experiences of the municipality of Utrecht is available. You can download this study here.