On 12 March, we made the decision to temporarily close our physical FutureGov offices in London, Sheffield and Manchester, in light of the coronavirus. Last week, following the UK Government’s advice that the public avoids all non-essential contact and unnecessary travel, we’ve asked all teams at FutureGov to work remotely until further notice.
This means that for the entire FutureGov team, all of our internal meetings are being held remotely.
It also means that for the past week, we’ve been working with our clients and partners to understand how we continue to deliver all of our projects remotely. In the midst of a major health crisis, we continue to work with our network to support them in solving some of the most complex social challenges.
Although new working practices and patterns have no doubt meant a period of adjustment over the last few days, we’re confident that we can continue to deliver great work together.
What we’re learning
Platforms like Slack and Google Drive are commonplace as our staff travels around the country supporting the work of our partners. We’re used to working in this way and we expect that the impact of our work with clients, as we move to fully remote working, will be minimal.
“Feeling really positive, the remote synthesis worked really well. I was dubious beforehand in terms of the tech, but it’s really good” – Client feedback
We’ve already begun running remote meetings and hosting remote workshops and synthesis sessions to great success. We’re learning a lot about how to run things virtually, using tools like Google Hangouts, Zoom and Miro, and will be sharing guides and principles openly as we develop them.
Supporting our communities
We’ve long rallied the importance of community — be that supporting the wider health and public sector network or the community of our own team. While digital tools offer us the opportunity to continue working towards our goals of designing services fit for the 21st century, they also provide us with the opportunity to continue nurturing our relationships, even when we can’t be in the same room.
Remote working adds a new layer of challenges around how we communicate effectively and support the people around us. As we adjust to this new way of working, we owe it to one another to continuously check-in. Not only on the progression of our work but how we’re dealing, adapting and responding to these changes.
As much as possible, we’re bringing our regular rhythms and routines into this remote working period. Our staff has quickly adjusted to incorporate new daily and weekly stand-ups across teams, we’re continuing with the much-loved Friday Breakfast (though now everyone makes their own breakfast in their homes and we chat over Google Hangouts) and we’ll be kicking off a new weekly all-team meeting this week.
It’s our communities that will help all of us adjust to these changes and thrive.
Always moving forward
Through it all, we’re continuing to deliver work with our partners. This week, we’ll be getting back into more regular rhythms, sharing blog posts about the varied work we’re doing, being sure to highlight how we’ve shifted or changed projects and everything we’re learning.
As much as possible, we’ll openly share our tools and processes. Last week we shared a guide of practical tips for remote working and published a guide to remote research — lookout for a blog post about that later this week.
We’ll continue to keep you updated with our Preparedness Policy for Coronavirus, which outlines the steps we’re taking. We’d also like to share the precautionary steps our friends at Deeson are taking, as they informed much of our approach (thanks for that).
Our hope is that through sharing, our partners or similar organisations can feedback and build on these policies and guides, adapting to the unique needs of your organisation. Now more than ever is a time for working together, working in the open and making great work happen.
If you’d like to discuss how we can help you put your own contingency plans in place, please get in touch.