Written by Lauren Bevan, Head of Healthcare at BJSS and member of the techUK Health and Social Care Council
At BJSS, we have managed to move our 1,500-strong workforce, spread across 12 offices in the UK and the US, to working from home in under a week, without any loss of productivity. We thought it would be useful to share how we did it and what we learned in the process.
When it became clear that COVID-19 was likely to hit the UK, the senior management team started to develop contingency plans on how to mitigate the impact on our workforce.
We started weekly meetings to discuss what we should do and how we should communicate with staff about our plans. A smaller group met daily to make sure that we could take rapid action should we need to.
At the start of March, we communicated with our staff to ask them to take their laptops (and client laptops if they had them too) home at the end of every day and to test their home networks to ensure they had sufficient connectivity to be able to continue to work if needed. This also eased the pressure on the internal IT support team, so the issues were drip-fed through to them to sort gradually. It also meant that hardware needed such as headsets, laptop raisers and other equipment needed to work safely, productively and comfortably were able to be ordered.
In the first week in March, we asked all staff to nominate a primary work site to reduce the likelihood of staff becoming ‘super spreaders’ between the offices and to our clients.
Our office managers arranged for additional hand sanitisers to be put in our offices, for additional cleaning to take place and for arrangements to be made for an anticipated increase in home working – such as ordering in headsets and reducing the orders for office food.
We have also been using virtual messaging technologies for some time. Our standard tools are Slack for team and project communications, Zoom for video and conference calls (the fact you can change backgrounds – so much fun) and Miro for online collaboration and virtual workshops.
We had conversations with all of our clients and agreed on how we would work with them to minimise the risk to both our staff and theirs and to ensure that velocity and deadlines were still met.
As the situation unfolded, we mirrored the UK Government advice and asked the team to work from home when it was clear that we were in a lockdown situation.
Because we had ensured people had tested their technical set ups and work environment, physically and psychologically our teams were more prepared to work at home when it became mandatory. We had been making the necessary arrangements behind the scenes for some weeks and communicating regularly and clearly with the whole company.
We have stand-up meetings with project teams every morning, which are done via video to allow the team to still connect with each other and discuss plans and blockers in the way the usually would, just online.
Since going fully remote, we've also adopted new rituals. Virtual office tea-breaks, a company-wide lunchtime bootcamp workout (webcam optional!) and end of Friday virtual cocktails for new starters.
It’s not just about delivering on existing projects. We have been kicking off new projects for new clients and working on remote discoveries, undertaking remote user research and collaborating on new technical builds.
We have also been hard at work continuing to deliver solutions for health and social care, which I outlined in my previous blog post.
If you would like to find out more, you can contact Lauren on Lauren.Bevan@BJSS.com.