Claire Oldham, operations manager at Hackney Council and Scott Shirbin, delivery manager at FutureGov

We’ve been working with Hackney Council and MadeTech, collaboratively redesigning their Benefits and Housing Needs. We’re inviting you to follow our work through shared sprint notes as we design a service which is easily understood, fair, accessible and beneficial to Hackney residents. These sprint notes were first published by Hackney. You can follow our process on HackIT, and the other great work happening at Hackney Council.

After an incredible Show & Share with over 100 people, and a number of stories being shared the team was energised to get started and plan our next phase of work. As we’ve moved with pace over the last few weeks, we wanted to take a breath and make sure we’re laying sustainable foundations.

What we’re going to deliver over the next two months

SMS Tool & Document Upload

The SMS tool continues to get great feedback from the service, and numbers are increasing in the amount of texts being sent to residents. The service is sending an average of 180 texts per week. With 30% of residents engaging and replying to a message.

“I’m using it a lot and in light of what’s going on at the moment. It’s a superb tool in getting documents from claimants quickly.”
Benefits and Housing Needs Officer, Benefits Team

The tool is proving itself effective in checking in with residents and nudging them to complete actions and provide information quickly.

The document upload tool allows a resident to take a picture of the required evidence and share it with the service. Information uploaded by residents in testing has included Universal Credit documents and medical information. There’s been more and more documents uploaded, and we’ve learnt a lot about what needs to be in the next iteration.

“The uploader is a quicker way of accessing documents from our claimants. It would be great if there was some way to differentiate between which documents are for other officers.”
Benefits and Housing Needs Officer, Benefits Team

Stay tuned as we start to implement some changes over the next two weeks to provide staff with an improved experience.

Shared Plan

The main focus of this sprint was to make sure the Shared Plan had a stable base to build off. During the last phase, we were making light prototypes so we could test and iterate rapidly. Now we have to lay the groundwork to make sure the Shared Plan meets privacy and data requirements while making sure we have a proper process to squash bugs as they come.

Therefore there was a lot of amazing work happening behind the scenes. Re-building the technology so the experience in the front is usable and polished. The team also started to turn the vision into a minimum viable version; prioritising the features that had to be there first and we hope to start testing the new design with staff over the coming weeks.

Understanding Vulnerability

If you remember a few sprint notes ago, we were talking about Understanding Vulnerability. If you’ve been wondering where those updates have gone, the team decided to pause the work, focus on iterating and scaling the SMS Tool and designing the Document Upload tool due to the pressures of Covid-19. But we’re now happy to welcome the work back.

How does everything fit together? Just like this.

As a recap, we believe understanding a resident’s level of vulnerability at any contact will:

  • stop things escalating
  • understand what level of intervention is suitable
  • free up time to work with those most in need

Over this next sprint, we’ll be starting to take what we learnt before and designing the next version of our Understanding Vulnerability tool. We’re looking forward to continuing this work and sharing it with you all.

Information and Evidence & Single View

As mentioned last time, we’ve now completed the work on the Single View and Information and Evidence tools. The latter is complemented with updated waiting times for residents who are considering joining the register.

These two things together can support the Council to deliver consistent and accurate information to residents about their chances of getting a property through the housing register. They can use this information to set expectations, encourage residents to consider other options and self-source their own properties.

Congratulations to the team for making this happen.

Want to know more?

Our most recent Show & Share Session 13/05/2020.

Feel free to get in touch with Claire or Scott if you’d like to chat through any of the work.


Sprint notes 8: reflect, sync, go. was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov

Education and technology have always driven one another to improve. And from this mutually beneficial relationship, different approaches to organizing education emerge, some poised to disrupt the entire industry.

As you read this, the education system is in the midst of introducing major alterations. The normalisation of indispensable tools like the internet is leaving room for terrific innovations. And with it come opportunities to introduce new dynamics of learning or reinvent previously existing ones.

And the intersection of teaching, technology, and the concept of a community of practice promises very fruitful outcomes. With the e-learning market on its way to reaching a whopping $325 billion in 2021, the environment is clearly ripe for introducing different solutions.

Quick Primer on Communities of Practice

Those not familiar with the term “community of practice” might be feeling out of the loop at this point. This section will help you navigate the rest of this piece much easier. You’ll get a broad-stroke understanding of what CoPs are and what unique benefits they offer.

Community of practice is a very broad term, but most agree that it refers to any group involved in a collaborative effort to reach a goal. That goal can be anything from solving an engineering problem to creating new modes of artistic expression. However, the underlying point is that these practices always contain a network that spreads and generates new knowledge or skills.

Experts usually divide communities of practice into three key components. These are:

  • The domain – the shared area of interest that the community forms around (like writing fiction, for example)
  • The community – the people sharing this interest and interacting with one another to create and propagate a pool of knowledge
  • The practice – the act of generating innovation and spreading knowledge through various means

One of the main perks that a CoP offers is a collective, organic spreading of knowledge and skills. It’s a very efficient, self-sustaining system that lacks most traditional oversight or red tape. That said, it’s not purely anarchic in nature. Rather, it’s simply a collective effort that flows dynamically.

Beyond that, a community of practice encourages a heutagogy-centric approach. This means that autonomy, capacity, and capability become the crux of student learning. Such a way of learning fosters independence in learners, a useful real-world soft skill.

Technology’s Role in Integrating Education and Communities of Practice

The most disruptive pieces of technology to the standard teaching model are 1) online courses and learning platforms and 2) online files updated in real-time. They essentially remove the centralized hierarchy of the teacher imparting knowledge to the learners. In its stead, they bring in a more community-driven group effort to learn and innovate, with knowledge sources and forums freely available to participants.

However, this shift does not take place just along the teacher-student line. Rather, it also reconstructs relations horizontally, allowing teachers to teach other teachers and perfect each other’s skills. In fact, the application of a community of practice is particularly effective in connecting educators and technology in that sense, primarily through professional development courses and activities. It has also shown itself to be useful in connecting otherwise isolated administrators with the rest of the staff.

Technology centrally serves as a conduit through which to ease the communal teaching process. For instance, files able to be shared and updated on the cloud allow for the transfer of knowledge to occur faster and with greater ease. And assets like forums allow for a place where community members can quickly inquire about anything they’re interested in.

In all likelihood, the SAMR model will be integral in introducing these technological methodologies in schools. In short, SAMR refers to a framework of integrating new solutions to accomplish old tasks better and enable new ones to be performed. It’s a fairly simple model that can smooth out the transformation into a digital learning place.

How Community of Practice Differs in Education

The education industry has a unique relationship with the CoP paradigm. In other niches, the CoP model serves as a means to achieve a specific goal, be it perfecting or innovating. This goal is usually separate from the methodology itself – how you manage to invent a new kind of can opener doesn’t really affect how one uses the product.

Education, on the other hand, works differently. Rather than the network of knowledge serving as a way to make a product, knowledge is the product. This makes the way communities relate information doubly crucial, at both the teacher and learner end. How any given educational organization approaches teaching makes it fundamentally different from other organizations.

For that reason, implementing a community of practice dynamic in this industry is more difficult and time-consuming. Any change that radical will inevitably have to be taken in gradually, leading to deep and wide changes in practice. 

Introducing new teaching systems, setting up new hardware and software, onboarding and training, new administrational issues – these are some of the many obstacles to a clean migration to a CoP model. And that’s not even mentioning cultural pushback from an institution that is, at its core, still very traditional in many respects, despite the progress it’s made over the years. 

However, provided education sector finds working solutions for all relevant issues, how we view teaching and learning could change immensely. Rather than being a top-most authority of skill and information, the teacher would turn into something more of a mentor or coach. Meanwhile,  education itself would become a decentralised, cooperative effort, wherein communities promote contribution and learning by self-initiative.

Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The post Community of Practice and Technology in Education appeared first on The Future Of Work.

Original source – Steve Dale online

you're only as good as the product.png

Not all comms jobs are equal.

by Darren Caveney

An old boss of mine said to me many, many moons ago:

“You’re only ever as good as the product.”

“Ultimately, your comms and marketing will always get found out if your product isn’t very good.”

It’s one of those lines which has stuck with me my whole career.

For ‘product’ you could also read:

–   Service

–   Organisation

–   People

–   Leaders

So:

You’re only as good as your service

You’re only as good as your people

You’re only as good as your leaders

I’ve been thinking about that advice these past few days.

Reflecting on the comms people trying their very best with products, services, people and leaders that aren’t very good.

And that ultimately you always get found out.

It is incredibly difficult to manage comms in these situations. Compromising even, for some.

If that’s you, the comms community feels your pain and sends our best thoughts to you.

Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0, owner of creative communicators ltd and a co-organiser of Comms Unplugged

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Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

crisis comms - 11 weeks and counting.png

NHS comms colleagues have had an incredibly tough few months. And it’s not over yet.

by Jane Appleton

I write this in week 11 of lockdown and since Day1 I must have seen a hundred bookshelves. Intellectual ones, colour-coded ones, “I ran out of bookcase” lumpy heaps, and the “Things I have gathered over my whole life” ones, which seem rich in Harry Potter and Narnia. 

Like most of you, via Teams/Zoom, I am spending a lot of time in other people’s spare rooms.  

The savvy ones blur their background to a Miami beach or the bridge of a science fiction spaceship. People inspecting my unhidden shelves will notice a wide range of self help books ranging from How Not To Wear Black to The Artist’s Way. None of which is a good look in a bookcase.

I work in NHS comms and I have never been busier.

Covid comms has both tested our skills in managing message, and our skills in adapting to connecting with colleagues, senior teams, and 24/7 incident control centre cells via a laptop balanced on a book at the mercy of rural wifi. It’s hard to feel like an influencer when I have, as an introvert (off the scale – thanks Myers Briggs) who has managed over many years to be a learned extrovert, and now must consider how to be an introvert again so I don’t miss the company of everyone in the office. Most of the time I am exhilarated by the challenge, and daunted by the scale of it.  

We are simultaneously drafting, revising, interpreting, and consuming the message. It shifts around each day, so the job is never finished. How to announce a staff death, what the posters on restricting hospital visitors might say, the constant challenge of messaging on PPE, the media keen to announce your local Nightingale hospital as a white elephant, or a lifesaver, or livening up when one of the Royals might open it.

And keep notes. Use a loggist’s notebook. Record decisions. There will be a public enquiry. Keep better notes. Complete templates, SITREPs, record your Teams meetings, have an issues log, escalate upwards these things and decide yourself on those things. Keep everyone connected. Organise staff briefings via a technology we hadn’t used this time last week. Oh, and take some time off, as its important to recharge.  Only – when?   

Chatting to a colleague (bookshelves in a good state, not too trashy, not too Booker Prize) about the potential long term mental health impact of Covid on a whole global population, we go through the various staging posts. Anxiety, stress, survivor guilt, PTSD, and suicide. Alongside the pesky virus, all these other risks lie, invisibly waiting to catch us out when we pause to draw uninfected breath.

Communicators are born connectors and we tribe together over whatever social networks we inhabit, comparing experiences, stresses and what we can share as we don’t have time to build our own. Everyone signs off the same – stay safe, hope you’re ok, keep in touch. It’s a hug sent down wifi and Bluetooth but received in warmth and gratitude.  

We will live with this for many years. It will grace CVs as the ultimate example of both “What were you most proud of?” along with “What experience have you learned most from?” I might only have changed a word on a poster, but if that changed one person’s behaviour, and that person stayed well, have I done my bit? Years of reckoning await us all.

Jane Appleton is regional director of communications at NHS England. You can say hello on Twitter at @JaneEAppleton

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Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

Sunny day, outdoor table, glass of water, Macbook Air, iphone

What leadership teamwork did I see?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve got more involved in the creation of a large and complex new NHS-branded service. I’m encouraged by its leaders’ focus on getting the user experience right, and on the importance of earning and keeping people’s trust. It has also given me a chance to work with a user-centred design dream team including Helen, Rochelle, Nancy, Sophie, and Misaki. Ian and Polly are holding the space for us to do good work, and Alison’s excellent delivery managership helps to keep us on track and moving forward.

What connections did I make?

Loads! Working with rapidly forming teams means that almost every day my colleagues and I are meeting new people, from a wide range of government and supplier organisations. There’s not much time to set out ground rules or agree ways of working. The only way I know in these circumstances is to assume good intent and competence, while being really clear about what we need to achieve together for our users.

How did I uphold the NHS Constitution?

There are some basic expectations that we set for anyone working on digital services for the NHS. Misaki made a brilliant list of things that user-centred design professionals need to know when starting at NHS Digital. I’ve shared this across other organisations we’re working with, in case it’s useful for their new starters too.

What else inspired me this week?

Meeting (virtually) with a group of people who care deeply about developing digital, data, and technology capability across health and care in a digital readiness workshop. Amid all the focus on the current situation and the next few months, it’s still important to be thinking about the capabilities the NHS will need in the future, and how we keep on growing and attracting that talent.

What do I need to take care of?

  • The most shared GIF in my colleagues’ weeknotes recently has been the clip from ‘The Wrong Trousers’ where Gromit is laying new tracks just inches ahead of a model train he’s riding on. We have to find ways to get ahead of that, so we can create the thoughfully-designed services that citzens and staff deserve.
  • I’m proud of the communities of designers and user researchers working across health and care. As changes happen across the sector, how do we keep those communities strong, and help to be the connective tissue that the system needs?
  • The coming weeks will demand that leaders in all these organisations be clear about their individual roles and responsibilities, but also act collectively as public entrepreneurs, creating new structures and initiatives to serve the next phase.
  • Meanwhile, our existing organisational life goes on. There are budgets to manage, objectives to set, performance and development conversations to hold. They deserve my undivided attention, and I need to check myself if I get distracted from them.

Original source – Matt Edgar writes here

At this time of the year we celebrate Learning at Work Week, but with the Covid-19 situation, it has been moved to October and instead, this week we’re celebrating Online Learning at Work Week

We all know why learning and development (L&D) is important, but I want to focus on the great opportunities available to us here, in MoJ Digital and Technology and how it’s personally helped me in my career over the years. 

I’ve been a Civil Servant for 25 years and I have to say we are fortunate to have a leadership team that values L&D and professional growth. All MoJ staff are entitled to spend a minimum of five days on L&D a year and here in D&T we go a step further by supporting this with 10% of our available time available! There are a number of ways to use this time, including attending workshops, online courses, job shadowing or even joining our mentoring programme. It is just a matter of choosing what suits you best. 

I have regular conversations with my manager about my L&D requirements and it’s this ongoing professional development that has helped me perform better at my role. I have a mentor as well, who I speak to monthly and we discuss my professional growth and how I can reach my full potential. 

I’ve also done some work-based learning and job shadowing, which I highly recommend as it gives you a great opportunity to build a deeper understanding and knowledge of other roles. All these forms of learning helped to boost my confidence and allowed me to make a transition from my role in Recruitment to my current role in Learning and Development. 

I know everyone learns and absorbs information in different ways, so a ‘one size fits all’ approach to L&D just doesn’t work but, we’ve got plenty of options to choose from so if you’re new or haven’t looked at your L&D in a while, I would recommend Civil Service Learning (CSL) as a good place to start. 

The GDS Knowledge Pool Catalogue and Government Digital Service training courses are also other options which include many opportunities for members to take advantage of, including some Microsoft courses. 

For our technical colleagues, I also manage these platforms, which come highly recommended by their users:

“But I don’t have the time!” This is something I hear quite often and have been guilty of saying it myself. However, the day I stopped thinking of L&D as an additional thing to do along with my job and made it part of my role, it became slightly easier. If you’re feeling the same way, maybe some of the below tips might be useful:

  • Making time – block some time in your calendar and speak to your team about this, so they know you’ll be dedicating that time to your L&D.
  • Make learning a habit – build learning into your weekly routine to create a positive, long lasting change.
  • Managing distractions – this can be tricky, especially now as some of us who are parents have kids at home with us. Set tasks for them to do so you know they’ll be occupied when you’re focusing on your learning. Perhaps when they’re doing PE with Joe Wicks in the morning?
  • Mentoring – this isn’t a tip about creating time but a suggestion on how to use your time. Investing your time in a mentoring programme can help you understand where you can develop, so if you’re struggling for example with an online course, try speaking to a mentor instead to have an open conversation about how you can further your development.  

Learning and development in the workplace should be ongoing, but if you’ve not had the chance to focus on it for a while, please use this week to make a start. Any time spent learning something new is never time wasted. So speak to your manager regularly about your L&D requirements and please feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to discuss any of the learning schemes/platforms mentioned above. 

Original source – MOJ Digital & Technology

It’s coming up to a year since I joined the Policy Lab team, after five years in policy and strategy roles across the Civil Service. I wanted to share some reflections on policy innovation – what I’ve learned, why it matters, and how policymakers can start to get to grips with it – especially given its relevance in the context of COVID-19. This blog is mainly aimed at policymaker colleagues, but I hope it has resonance more widely.

Annie Norman running a Policy Lab project kickoff workshop.

Experiencing policy innovation first-hand, running a Policy Lab project kickoff workshop.

What do I mean by ‘policy innovation’?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of ‘innovation’ jargon out there. So let’s go back to basics. By policy innovation, I’m not talking about government policy related to innovation, but rather about innovation within the policymaking process itself. You might have heard of useful tools such as ‘PESTLE’ (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental), ‘SWOT’ (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, stakeholder mapping and, of course, the ‘ROAMEF’ policy cycle (explained comprehensively in the Green Book). At Policy Lab we are taking a fresh look at the policy process as a whole, and exploring where new tools, techniques and methods might complement existing tools, help to improve policy processes and ultimately deliver better outcomes for citizens.

Why does policy innovation matter?

If you’d asked me this time last year why policy innovation was important, I might have improvised something about ‘changing and improving’ and digital tools. Since then I’ve learnt, first-hand, a great deal more about some of the challenges and potential biases in the policymaking process, and how new ideas, techniques and methods might help to overcome them. For example, it can be difficult to get underneath statistics and trends to understand what’s going on at a human level and why. Without this insight we might be missing something important when it comes to developing effective policy. This is where methods such as lived experience research (ethnography) and co-design can really add value, in combination with more traditional approaches like quantitative analysis.

This is an image of a Policy Lab co-design workshop with the young people.

Policy Lab co-design workshop with young people, in collaboration with DCMS and the Youth Voice Steering Group.

What are we doing now?

At Policy Lab, our work to improve policymaking often involves bringing ‘outside’ disciplines, such as anthropology, design and futures thinking into a policy context. This blog will highlight three ways we are doing this as we also adapt our work to the new challenges of COVID-19.

Understanding people’s lived experience

Firstly, we are exploring how broadening the evidence base can help policymakers to make better sense of complexity, in particular analysing not only what is happening, but why it is happening. One way we do this is by looking at the day-to-day experiences of people who are affected by government services and policies. Most recently, and in response to the need to comply with social distancing measures, we have been working to adapt our ethnographic methods for remote research, allowing participants to invite us into their lives ‘virtually’. 

These are two mobile phone screenshots from recent remote video ethnography work.

Screenshots from video ethnography work (now conducted remotely).

Bringing diverse voices into policymaking

Secondly, we are exploring how we can bring diverse voices into the policymaking process, including a wider range of people in a meaningful and constructive way. As well as policymaking colleagues, this might include frontline operational staff, people from the public, private, voluntary and community sectors, and members of the public themselves. We think that working collaboratively in this way can lead to a deeper understanding of problems and better solutions. Stephen Bennett of Policy Lab recently wrote about how we are developing and evolving our participatory methods, creating both virtual and inclusive spaces.

Imagining multiple futures

And thirdly, we draw on techniques such as foresight and speculative design, together with a broader range of people, to imagine what different futures might look like, and what this means for policymakers now. In this current context, we are thinking about multiple future worlds in light of the impact of COVID-19.

This is an images of Policy Lab's adapted Futures framework adapted from Anna Roumiansteva’s model, The Fourth Way: Design Thinking Meets Futures Thinking.

Policy Lab’s futures thinking framework, adapted from Anna Roumiansteva’s model, The Fourth Way: Design Thinking Meets Futures Thinking.

Where you can start with policy innovation

If you are interested in policy innovation, I have three suggestions for how you can get started.

Firstly, at Policy Lab we are as open as we can be, sharing our work and learnings through our blog, twitter, slideshare, and the Open Policy Making Toolkit

Secondly, I have reflected that there are some important questions for people involved in making policy to consider, to support an innovative approach:

  • What is the challenge we’re trying to solve? Is there consensus on this, or different opinions?
  • What is assumed about this issue? How can these assumptions be tested?
  • What don’t we know – including not only about what is happening, but why it is happening? How can we understand this better?
  • Who else might have insight, and how can we include them in the policymaking process? No individual can possibly have all the answers, but a policymaker is in a unique position to bring people and perspectives together so that a wider range of ideas can be generated and explored. 

Thirdly, if you’re a UK civil servant and you’d like to receive updates on our work, and how we’re applying our innovative tools in the context of COVID-19, please get in touch with us to join our network: policylab@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

Original source – Policy Lab

Fingerprints are everywhere. They’re hard to see and hard to remove. A lot of design work is realignment. And we can all be more intentional about where we leave our fingerprints. It’s easy to worry about how visible your contribution […]

Original source – Ben Holliday

Screenshot 2020-05-22 at 16.40.29

Yesterday, the Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2020 was published, bringing brilliant news – 1.2 million more people are able to use their devices and the Internet by themselves than last year. This is a huge achievement, and no doubt due in part to the hard work from our amazing hyperlocal partners in the Online Centres Network.

But we still have a long way to go. Access to technology and connectivity is clearly a huge barrier preventing many people accessing the benefits of digital, with 1.9 million households lacking access to the internet. Through the DevicesDotNow initiative we’ve been able to distribute internet connected devices to those who need it most. You can read more about the impact the campaign is having for people like Ron Roper and Firoozeh Salimi.

The other part of digital exclusion is about skills. 

This is a bigger problem than you may think, as yesterday’s Consumer Digital Index has reinforced. Around 17.2 million of the workforce lack the essential digital skills they need for work, and these stats are worryingly similar to the figures from last year. This means that the workforce has stood still in terms of digital enablement – and at the same time, 82% of all job vacancies require digital skills. 

The digital skills gap needs fixing, and this is going to be essential for the country’s longer term recovery. The Skills Toolkit offers part of the solution.

Launched by the Government a couple of weeks ago, The Skills Toolkit gives people access to free digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost job prospects. I’m really excited that Good Things Foundation has been working with the Department for Education to offer a range of digital skills resources on The Skills Toolkit linked through our free online learning platforms, Learn My Way and Make it Click.

For the very basics, our Learn My Way resources can help people get to grips with their computer, tablet or mobile phone. Unsurprisingly, our video calling course has proved extremely popular during Covid-19.

If people are a bit more comfortable with technology, Make It Click has plenty of helpful resources, including on working from home. And for the digitally ambitious, there are courses on the fundamentals of digital marketing from our partners at Google, right through to programming essentials in Python. 

But this isn’t just about jobs and skills for work. My colleague Kevin wrote an excellent blog outlining the positive effects of adult learning beyond employability prospects, including improved social cohesion, health and security.

TheSkillsToolkit - wellbeing static landscape

The Skills Toolkit is bringing new people – people we wouldn’t normally reach pre-Covid-19 – to Learn My Way. Our in-house data shows that most users who registered throughout April said they were employed, not looking for work, and have moderate to high existing internet ability. That means that people are choosing to develop their skills during Covid-19. Motivation is now much higher with 79% of people using Learn My Way last week saying that they were “more interested in developing new digital skills since the Covid19 crisis began”.

At least one good thing to come from the current crisis is that digital skills have proved themselves to be essential in a socially distancing world. We can be sure that they are going to be crucial for our recovery as well. In our Blueprint for a 100% Digitally Included Nation, we called for the provision of free essential digital skills support for everyone who needs it. The Skills Toolkit is a positive step forward, taking us that little bit closer to achieving our vision of a world where everyone can benefit from digital. 

Original source – Helen Milner

Image shows typing hands

As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the demand for digital services such as Universal Credit has grown in a sudden and unanticipated way. In DWP Digital, we’re continuing to do everything we can to help facilitate this. Our tech services teams have rapidly re-designed a process to enable new kit to be delivered and set-up virtually for our thousands of DWP colleagues who are now working from home, in line with the guidance on social distancing.

Most importantly we’ve been involved in the setup of a new virtual contact centre to support the unprecedented amount of new claims. Wherever we can, we’re re-deploying DWP Digital colleagues to service delivery roles to help the department meet customer demand and to focus on processing new claims. This is important work and our colleagues have a huge sense of pride in doing such critical work. This is what some of them had to say…

Ozma

Ozma

Ozma working from home

I was temporarily redeployed to work in the Universal Credit Virtual Service Centre on 6 April.

I’m excited to do be doing ‘my bit’ to support my colleagues and to help deliver the benefits so desperately needed by so many people during this crisis. I strongly believe that in DWP it’s our job to help those that need support in these unprecedented times.

In my usual role as the DWP Gender lead, I’d be setting up essential training programmes and initiatives to help meet DWP’s gender diversity objectives. This work is completely different so I’m apprehensive as there’s a lot to learn. However, I have a background in operations having worked as a manager in 2 different service centres for over 8 years prior to my current role.

I know that eventually life will go back to normal and I’ll be able to look back with pride at my contribution.

Oliver

image of Oliver outside in a grassy area.

Oliver taking a break outside

Redeployment has been absolutely fascinating. I think the user experience for Universal Credit has the user at its heart, it’s so simple and can all be done online, it’s such a great customer journey. I communicate with customers daily via their online journal which also alerts them via text when they get a message from me. The digital system is much faster and easier for people to reach us than using the phone so we’re able to deal with multiple cases at a time.

My training was completely delivered online using our internal intranet and Skype for Business. It was 5 days of intensive learning and then we were put into action processing the influx of claims for Universal Credit. It was intense and daunting with so much information to retain but I’ve had a real sense of pride rising to this new challenge.

In my day job I work on creatives for digital recruitment and advertising, so it’s been a different experience finding out how our work impacts our customers for real. Mentally this new role has done me the world of good during these difficult times as I feel that I am doing something which has a real sense of purpose.

Adele

Adele working from home

Adele at her laptop in her home

I’m enjoying my new redeployment role. It’s been really busy and I’m constantly learning new things or taking part in online training courses to improve.

The training would normally be a 6-week face to face course but because of the crisis this was condensed. It’s been full on with so much to learn, especially as we are communicating directly with our customers, so we really need to know what we’re talking about.

I feel like I am helping which is good and I’m enjoying working with new people too. I live on my own and I’m working remotely from home so I’m glad to be busy and it’s been a good reminder of the grass roots reason DWP is here.

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Original source – DWP Digital