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Census field assistant

Empowering field operations for the Office for National Statistics

Connecting 40,000 remote workers to the latest field guidance


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Every 10 years since 1801, the UK census has collected vital information that informs government policies and plans for running the country. For census 2021, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) recruited and mobilised 40,000 field staff to capture this data with tight training schedules. 

Previously, the ONS never had any online support for any past census, having relied on large printed manuals. Manuals that were costly to produce, inconvenient in the field, and lacking both immediacy and sometimes relevance.

"We have enjoyed working with such knowledgeable and professional staff in a truly agile fashion to complete the technical development in such tight and challenging timescales."

Senior Programme Manager Digital Services & Technology, Office for National Statistics

ONS self-help facility

The approach

To enable census takers to be self-sufficient in the field and remain supported by up-to-date ONS guidance, WORTH developed a mobile-first online and offline Self Help Facility. The Self Help Facility is an entirely novel solution championed internally by the ONS team and collaboratively designed and developed by WORTH. The Self Help Facility maximises the opportunities and quality of data collected because, after all, it's important to get it right. 

WORTH additionally provided assistance to the ONS to deliver their content strategy. Since high quality content suitable for web users was key to the success of the Self Help Facility, including the use of keywords and meta tags ensured users to intuitively get to the right content fast.


Dramatic reduction of print manuals

The Self Help Facility replaces 90% of the content of previous print manuals for field staff, reducing paper wastage, significantly increasing portability and availability, and relieving pressure on content publication. 

Reduced call centre load

With searchable and bookmarkable content to hand at all times, field staff can access key info on demand and be truly self-sufficient, reducing expected call centre support by 65%. Real-time feedback and updates - As a living content system, new information in the field can be processed and updated back to the ONS with publishing updates in less than 30 minutes, allowing ONS to keep staff safe and supported with the latest guidance. 

Secure mobile GDS standards compliant service

Rapid digital product development creating a secure mobile Government Digital Standards (GDS) compliant service. The service is fully supported and maintained.


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