Want to know how Service Design can make a real impact on government services? Hear from Tony, Senior Service Designer at the Home Office, as he tells us all about the role of Service Designers in improving government services.
With a journey that took him from retail to local government to the Civil Service, Tony is proof that you don’t need a traditional IT background to thrive in this industry. So, grab a cup of tea and settle in for some serious insights into the power of service design!
What was your journey into tech like and how did you end up in your current role at UK Home Office?
I started my career in retail, bringing joy to kids at the Disney Store and later at Harrods in the toy department. But after years of working with children, I needed a change. So I put my management and supervisory skills to use in local government, overseeing health and safety, food safety, and Trading Standards.
I quickly realised the potential of transitioning from paper to digital processes and became a business systems officer. Working with a supplier, I streamlined services and eliminated physical files. This opened my eyes to the world of service design, where user-centred design is key. As a business analyst in various departments, I honed my skills and eventually landed at the Home Office, where I now focus on improving user experiences as a service designer in the User Centred Design team within the Digital department.
How did your experience in local government help to prepare you for your role as a Senior Service Designer at the Home Office, and how does your role contribute to the organisation's mission?
As a Service Designer at the UK Home Office, my role is all about making sure that our services work for our users. I take on complex processes and policies and work to unravel them, making them simple, plain English, and easy to understand. I'm all about breaking down the red tape so that our users can get the support they need. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing our users get the help they deserve.
My role is all about providing improved services across the Home Office, making sure that our colleagues can do their jobs effectively and efficiently. This means removing the cognitive load of simple tasks, like booking annual leave or checking a payslip, so that our colleagues can focus on what really matters.
We value respect, courage, compassion, and collaboration. We're not afraid to test new ideas, fail, and learn from it. We seek to understand the perspectives of others and work together as one team, breaking down silos and boundaries.
Can you tell us more about the service designer toolkit and framework you've been working on, and how it will benefit other service designers and stakeholders within the Home Office?
I noticed that our user journey maps, service maps, and service blueprints were all over the place. Everyone seemed to be doing things their own way, making it a nightmare for stakeholders to make sense of it all.
With the help of a colleague and the power of Figma, I created a set of reusable components that can be dragged and dropped anywhere. No more tedious post-it notes for us! And the best part? All of the assets are aligned with the ways that we think of service designers, making consistency across the board a breeze. Stakeholders are already relieved to see that everything looks the same, and I'm excited to share this tool with other service designers in the community. Who knows, maybe it will even become a government-wide standard.
Give us some insight into the culture at the Home Office, and how does it differ from other organisations you've worked at in the past?
Working at the Home Office has been a breath of fresh air – they’re all about openness and teamwork. Whenever I ask for help, my colleagues are more than happy to lend a hand. We're all in this together, and regular meetings with teams across the country mean I get to work with a diverse range of people.
The best part? The autonomy! I'm trusted to solve problems and make decisions, rather than being constantly micromanaged. Of course, support is always there if I need it, but I'm free to learn from my mistakes and move forward independently.
Oh, and did I mention the recognition? It's not just about the work we do, but also celebrating our personal achievements.
Lastly, the Home Office values transparency and accountability. We can provide anonymous feedback and the top-voted ideas get addressed.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in technology, but may not have a traditional background in the field?
There are plenty of roles in these fields that don't require a PhD in computer science. Trust me, I've seen it all, and I'm living proof that you don't need a traditional IT background to thrive in this industry.
Don't worry if you don't speak the language of code - The Home Office has got your back! They'll help you get up to speed on anything you don't understand, or connect you with other people who can break down the tech talk into plain English.
Plus, the skills you bring to the table are valuable in their own right. Service design is all about solving problems and making things work better. And those skills are transferable! Just look at me - I went from retail to local authority to the civil service, and let me tell you, it's been a wild ride. But with the right attitude and a willingness to learn, you can make it too.
What do you see as the future of service design in the public sector, and how do you anticipate the role of service designers evolving in the years to come?
Service design is not just a destination, it's a journey. And let's be real, it's a journey that's all about delivering effective services to users. With agile and product-centric delivery mechanisms, commitment to these services is key.
In the future, service designers will be the backbone of larger services, embedded in teams from conception to implementation. They'll be the advocate for users, challenging stakeholders with the question, "How will this impact the end user?".
It's time to move beyond consultation and truly understand the user's perspective. Let's evolve the way we do things in government and put the power of service design to work for the people. Exciting, right?
If you’d like to join the team at Home Office, they are currently hiring for a Policy Lab Principal Service Designer, click the link to apply. You can also create a profile on the hackajob platform, where they’re currently hiring for a variety of roles or log in to your profile here…