#TeamHable Customer Stories: Sussex NHS Commissioners

Prior to COVID-19, #TeamHable had been working with Sussex NHS Commissioners who were already looking at how to move their people over to a more cloud-based, remote-based way of working. Microsoft 365 was their long-term plan. But then of course, the pandemic happened and the executive team had to make a very quick decision that Teams would be the way that they would deal with the transition to remote working.

The initial engagement was on changing their internal working practises, with a focus on the behavioural shifts that would be required to make the transition to Microsoft 365 a successful one. In light of coronavirus, the team at Sussex NHS Commissioners went from a 6-9 month plan to a 48 hour plan almost overnight, going from a situation where 70-90% of staff would have been considered office based, with only a few working from home, to nearly all the staff with very little time to prepare.

A unique hurdle for both Hable and Sussex NHS Commissioners….

The pandemic posed a unique hurdle to overcome for both Hable and NHS Commissioners. Due to lockdown measures, in-person training could not be delivered. Like everyone, we had to adapt quickly to the situation and transfer our training skills from in-person to remote. Essentially, we had to shift to deliver training on Teams via Teams. The unique challenge we faced was having to get people who do not use the product to be able to get into Teams, and to be at least able to access the training.

“I think that in itself is quite an achievement, to set this up in a completely virtual setting rather than a traditional classroom, where you can walk in and you don’t need to know anything, you can just sit down and be shown how to log in. The fact that we managed to train our workforce using the very product we were training them itself was quite impressive.”

– Matthew King, Digital Development Manager, Sussex NHS Commissioners


Overcoming a reluctance to accept the technology

At the outset, the CCG project leaders identified that very few teams across the organisation had a digital-first approach to their style of working, and most meetings and interactions were regularly done face to face, by phone or email.

Our approach at Hable is always to put people first. Rather than taking a practical approach “to do this, click here, here and here” we take a people-centric approach, showing how technology can be used as a tool to make people’s working lives simpler. With this perspective, when technology is seen as a tool and not an end in itself, its power can really be tapped into. This is something we really feel that we have achieved in this project.

“To get the number of people we have to embrace the technology in such a short time is very rewarding. Our people can see how the technology can help them in their day-to-day lives and work more efficiently.”

– Matthew King, Sussex NHS Commissioners 

Reconceptualising physical spaces

Sussex NHS Commissioners had just completed the move to a new office building in Worthing, which was based around a 60% occupancy, whereas their previous building was large enough to house every member of staff with their own desk. This new set up will provide a template for new offices, which they anticipate will now be used increasingly as spaces staff use when there is a need for face-to-face meetings.

“We’ve leaped forward about 18 months from where we were in the space of six weeks or so. It’s given us the opportunity to really think about what sort of space we actually do need and how we can best utilise that space. It’s actually quite exciting.”

– Helen Codd, Smarter Working Programme Manager, Sussex NHS Commissioners


Services Delivered by #TeamHable: 

– 2 hour end user training for all staff
– Support for live events
– End user specialist floor walking
– Training management and planning

What results have you seen so far? 

“We’ve started to see people using Teams as default. There’s a long way to go for some, but people who are opting to use it have started filtering through. Another big change has been that we don’t use Skype anymore. It’s happened very quickly. We had a plan to put in place a gradual shift, but now we’ve been able to get people skilled up in Teams so they know how to make things work.”



– Helen Codd, Sussex NHS Commissioners

Teams Stats:
– 77 Training sessions delivered over 16 days
– 859 users trained
– 877 using Teams
– 824 posts and 1026 replies!

Matthew, Victoria and Helen on a call, exploring the new custom background feature on Microsoft Teams!

The power of being open and honest

Matthew and Victoria were in constant engagement prior to the project, meaning that we knew every nuance of what was happening. The team at NHS Sussex trusted that the advice we gave would be the right advice. This not only takes a lot of pressure off them, it enables us to deliver what we need to deliver. 

“The team were honest about expectations and deliverables, about where they are right now and what they want to achieve. With them being so open and honest with us about their expectations and the problems they face, it enabled us to really deliver something that is good. Having an open and honest dialogue about what the culture is like, where the negativity is coming from and where quick wins can be gained is so important when laying the foundations of the project.”

– Victoria O’ Higgin’s, Hable

The importance of teamwork and continuity

Victoria O’Higgins led this project, working alongside Paul Hart and Wing Leung. Victoria commented on the power and importance of teamwork and continuity of staff in any project, but even more so given that all the sessions were delivered remotely. With continuity, you can build a rapport and everyone working on the project knows exactly what is going on, enabling all involved to know what needs delivering and how best to deliver it. The beauty of delivering training remotely is that everyone on the team can dip into each others sessions, learn from each other and find a common narrative.

I think that’s what makes us really effective as a company, because even remotely, we’re constantly engaging with both each other and clients. It has really been an amazing project and I have to say, working with Wing and Paul has been such an incredible experience. Between the three of us, we’ve really figured things out together and worked as a team. The Sussex NHS Commissioners have been brilliant to work with and have supported us with everything we’ve needed. I really feel that they’ve enjoyed having us delivering the project and we’ve really enjoyed delivering it. It also felt like we haven’t really needed to focus on the technology at all, it has always been about how it can help the people using it. 

– Victoria O’Higgins, Hable

Victoria’s three highlights from the project…

Beyond the classroom…

At the end of one of my sessions, one lady stayed on to tell me that her daughter was using Teams for school and her classmates kept putting her on mute while she was talking. The teacher’s didn’t know how to resolve the problem. I was able to tell her how to stop this from happening (press the ‘…’ and change the status from participant to attendee). Then, she was able to take this new knowledge and confidence on using Teams and pass it on to someone else.

Adding real value

We had GP’s that joined some of the sessions, which we didn’t necessarily expect. On the last week we delivered, one GP contacted me straight afterwards to tell me how much he enjoyed the session. He told me that he had blocked off two hours for his whole practice to join the next one, which is a lot of time in the NHS. We recorded the last session so even more GP’s could benefit. It was a really special moment to know that we can add so much value to the working day of people doing a job that is so important to wider society.

The human touch

One thing the staff mentioned is how personable we are. For example, my cat video bombing sessions. It brings a sense of normality and off-topic talking points that can be lost delivering sessions remotely. It seems like something small, but these little anecdotes just make the session more memorable and bring a personal touch to them.

Millie, Victoria’s Teams-loving cat!

“What’s been good for me is the adaptability that Hable have shown. We originally said that we wanted 800 people to be trained, by the time we got people in and started looking at lists we found that actually we needed more. Hable were very flexible in adjusting the training to suit where we would hit issues or find quirks in the way that the NHS hybrid solution works.”

– Matthew King, Sussex NHS Commissioners

What’s Next?

“What we’ve learnt is what we need to do next. As we’ve worked alongside Hable, we’ve been able to see where we can benefit from additional in-depth training for key workers to really embed the knowledge, and make sure that we use Teams safely. To be able to have that conversation alongside the training has given us the confidence to deliver a multi-phased approach to get people up and running using Microsoft Teams.

We are also learning that we need to establish guidelines on correct etiquette and how to navigate this new way of working. For example, knowing that you don’t have to respond to chat messages instantly and making sure that you make time for breaks between meetings. We are trying to make sure that people don’t feel like they need to be glued to their computer all day, just to keep that green light on. The future is activity based, not place based.”

– Matthew King, Sussex NHS Commissioners

We’ve absolutely loved working with Sussex NHS Commissioners. It’s been a real pleasure to enable the team to adapt and keep working efficiently during these challenging times. We’re looking forward to developing this relationship further and helping them to get to the next stage of their digital strategy.

Many thanks to Matthew King and Helen Codd for taking the time to talk to us about this project, and for being such co-operative partners!

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