PLANNING and PREPARATION
As the UK Government started to up the anti, with their updates becoming more regular with increasingly stark messages, it became clear that we needed to prepare for a very different way of working across the Trust.
To this end we spent a week testing our systems in order to ready ourselves for the bulk of our office based and remote staff to be able to work from home.
Our Direct Payments Teams, who work with thousands of disabled people to help them employ their own care teams, across five counties from Hampshire to Plymouth, all needed to be able to carry out their roles virtually. This was in order to reduce the number of contact they had with vulnerable people, but continue to provide the vital support needed to ensure people’s care carried on. Aligned to this service are our managed accounts and payroll teams, who are based in our Andover head office and need to be fully operational, to make sure these same vulnerable people can pay their care teams, wherever they are.
We split our corporate support teams into two and had half of them working from home, to test the demand on our IT systems and to check which functions could carry on away from the office.
While our fantastic IT team did a great job of rallying round and ensuring everyone had the right equipment and network access, the people in the operational teams showed a massive amount of flexibility and willingness to adapt.
The decision to test having people work from home, while relatively easy in itself, provoked a deeper conversation about how mentally well-equipped our teams were for the isolation of home working. After a lengthy discussion at the daily meeting and further discussions in individual teams, each department came up with their own creative ways to stay in touch and recreate the office camaraderie that forms such an essential part of life at Enham.
From Skype lunch breaks, to increased use of the staff facebook page and dance challenges, each and every person recognised the role they could play in the communal well-being of each other.
It is this consistent care for each other that makes me proud of my teams and what they have achieved during this crisis to date.
THE DECISION TO REDUCE CONTACT
Soon after testing and fixing the issues that this threw up, we made the decision the reduce the exposure our staff had to the virus and their potential to spread to other people. Our remote staff teams were moved to full-time home working and with the exception of the senior management team, our head office teams were moved to full-time home working too. This had a massive impact on the feel of the place and an exponential increase to the volume of phone and video calls being made in the course of a day. We have developed a truly open-door way of working over the last three years, with anyone able to come and speak to whoever they want, to help them with whatever they need, so the shift to having everyone on the other end of a screen was slightly surreal.
Alongside this Enham change, came the instruction from Government for people with underlying health conditions to self isolate. We had also, in the week of testing, sent anyone with cold or flu-like home for seven days, just to be safe. We also had our first staff with suspected symptoms self isolate and two were tested, thankfully coming back clear.
This focus on people’s physical and mental health has remained a focus of our daily coronavirus meetings and we have formed a well-being group specifically targeted at helping our staff and those in our care, through the coming weeks.
I hope you find my reflections useful, if you’d like to get in touch, drop me a line on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’m easy to find.
Until next time, Stay safe and well.