A few months ago, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic response, Lancashire’s Chief Constable Andy Rhodes QPM got in contact with techUK to understand the tech industries response to the pandemic, what techUK was doing to support members, and the Justice & Emergency Services programme stakeholder engagement work. This was a great opportunity to discuss the excellent role of Oscar Kilo and, particularly, their work in supporting police forces in their response to the pandemic. Oscar Kilo is the home of the National Police Wellbeing Service and brings assessment, learning and conversation about emergency services wellbeing into one place.
From here, it was evident there was some great working taking place not only in the UK, but other parts of the world as well. We were able to discuss what was working well, what the challenges have been but also the role that technology can play in supporting the wellbeing of police officers worldwide. From this conversation and, based on a number of successful virtual events techUK has been running to support members and stakeholders throughout lockdown, it was clear there was an opportunity to pull all these case studies together into one (virtual) room to share. How tech has enabled family, friends and colleagues to stay digitally connected, whilst physically apart.
This subsequently led to Oscar Kilo partnering with techUK and We Need Social to deliver – Policing a Pandemic: the impact of tech on well-being. In the run up to the event, I am delighted to share the below blog from Celine Schillinger, CEO at We Need Social.
Policing Through A Pandemic & The Role Of Tech
For the last few months, I have been supporting Oscar Kilo with the preparation of an international event on police wellbeing. Police work has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to know how much disruption people experienced, whether technology has been a blessing or a burden, and what new wellbeing practices may have emerged. So, we launched a survey, which 600 people answered in just 2 weeks: an equal proportion of officers and staff, with no noticeable difference in their responses. The event is actually built on the responses received.
How technology improves wellbeing (Oscar Kilo survey)
50% of respondents say that the pandemic has affected their work for the better; 35% for the worse; 15% have seen no change.
78% of respondents have a positive experience of technology: it helped with work despite pandemic constraints (37%), with collective productivity (16%), with connection to others (13%) and created opportunities for innovation (12%). For 12% of respondents, technology felt like a burden, and 9% didn’t particularly rely on tech. More details as well as quotes can be found here.
Particularly interesting for me, as a non-police person, are the caveat brought by respondents to a widespread usage of technology at work. They point out that technology can improve staff wellbeing if and only if…
- …Technology comes with relevant support and guidance, is reliable, is compatible with other systems in use, does not trigger additional bureaucracy (more reporting, more statistics…) but better, meaningful work
- …End users are consulted, and are provided with tech according to needs, not to ranks;
- …Tech is part of a wider effort to improve collective work, that includes new work practices: more asynchronous work, less / shorter calls, protection of personal time, continuation of face-to-face contacts whenever possible, tech / screen overload management
- …Organizational culture evolves towards more experimentation, more cross-level dialogue, a blame-free culture where leaders truly lead, i.e. trust, support and enable their teams.
Police workers are actually like you and me. People’s aspirations at work transcend disciplines. Surprised?