The Role of Microsoft Teams in the NHS’ Battle Against COVID-19

The NHS is well known for being the largest employer in Europe and one of the largest in the world, with a workforce made up of over 1.3 million staff, many of whom are front line clinicians who are now responsible for looking after patients who have contracted COVID-19, on top of their usual patient-load. It is not just the clinicians, but a huge swathe of back office staff who are supporting them in order to ensure the smooth running of the organisation.

Being the biggest employer, means that the biggest asset to the NHS is its staff. It is more important than ever that we protect these staff from unnecessary risks to allow them to deliver the great treatment they are renowned for.

One way that we can do this is to fundamentally change the way that we work, so here are some practical applications of Microsoft Teams that you can deploy to support your staff through this tumultuous period:

Back office staff are not only a risk to patients, but they are at risk of contracting the virus whilst on site. They also take up parking spaces that should be prioritised for patients and clinicians. With documents, chat, audio and video calling available in Microsoft Teams, this platform can be used to enable staff to continue working from other locations.

The requirement for the return of clinicians who have recently retired or the movement of staff between organisations. Microsoft teams the perfect way to conduct interviews or deliver briefings to staff who are geographically dispersed. You can grant access to those outside of your organisation to access teams. So, if you are using doctors or nurses from other sites to support treatment, they can be invited using their NHS Mail or local NHS email address.

Teams can be used in crisis management, as many workers will have children, so finding a secure way of sending out urgent messages and communications is key. Teams can go one step further, by integrating Microsoft shifts to note who is providing on call support, or who is available to come in if required. This allows staff to work when they are available, whilst balancing their other commitments and priorities. Discouraging patients who are otherwise fit and well from attending front line facilities is key

I know what you are probably thinking… that you need “the most expensive licences” or shiny devices” to make this dream a reality… but that really isn’t the case. Office 365 enables users to work anytime, anywhere and from any device.

However, we do have some key advice if you’re thinking about working virtually for the first time:

  • Test your setup and make sure that before working from home you have access to everything you may need.  Whether this be an adjustable chair or a system it is crucial to get it.
  • Make sure that people know how to use the technology in a safe way. If people are using their own, devices think about how you can limit the risk of data leakage but without preventing them from being able to carry out their role. This may be a policy about how technology and data is used, or a short video colleagues watch before they begin.
  • If you are hosting a meeting where a more personal touch is needed, then don’t be afraid to turn those Webcams on. Consider virtual meetings in the same vein as a meeting you would host face to face. Think about how much information you take out of the people in the room, you hear them talking but you also read just as many cues from their body language and facial expressions. This can then be replicated virtually by using both audio and video.
  • You don’t need to be sat next to your employee to know they are working. Presence on instant messenger, their diary or work outputs give you an indication as to whether they are working. Staff can be as easily distracted by colleagues in a working environment, as they can be working from home, so don’t let this scare you or put you off most staff have been shown to be more productive when working in a home environment.

 

If you would like more hands on and practical guidance do get in touch and we can help you to remotely, or through on-site training, get you and your staff up and running as quickly as possible.

 

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