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Behind the scenes – Remote working image

As the country adapts to the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, SHIL, like many other teams and organisations, are now operating remotely. We use this issue of behind the scenes, to highlight our work in responding to the crisis; ensuring we maintain business continuity and protect the physical and mental health of our staff, whilst doing all we can to support NHS Scotland.


Why are we remote working?

In line with Government advice, SHIL staff are working from home to help prevent the spread of the virus and avoid any unnecessary travel or public contact. This helps us safeguard our most important asset - our team and support resilience within the NHS.

What measures have we put in place?

The entire team has everything needed to work effectively at home and ensure the continued support of our colleagues across NHS Scotland, Scottish Government and beyond. This includes a virtual private network (VPN) so our team can work securely the way they always have. It also includes extensive use of communication and management apps such as Zoom, for instant messaging and video calling, Trello, for managing our projects plus the more traditional email and phone call options. This has seen a change in the way we work and communicate with each other; conversations that would normally take place in the office now take place over instant message and meetings take place virtually via video. Resilience plans for each team, also mean we are as prepared as we can be for what may come, and can continue to support the NHS to the best of our ability.

Additional measures such as promoting exercise, sharing tips to deal with stress and anxiety is helping to ensure staff have the tools and support to deal with what is an incredibly overwhelming situation.

“It’s incredible how much has changed in a week. Zoom is certainly making life easier and a good way of feeling connected with the rest of the team - I’m looking forward to trying some Zoom yoga! This is a good way to keep spirits up during a concerning time as we wait to see how the situation develops and impacts on family, friends and colleagues, particularly those providing front line care. I feel very lucky to have the NHS.”   
Sheena MacCormick, Innovation Manager, SHIL

What impact does this have?

The team, like everyone, is adapting to the unknown. A situation that is new, fast-moving and really quite daunting. Rightly people are worried about their health, the health of those around them and not just physical health, mental health is important. Good management support, regular communication and a strong sense of team are supporting this transition.

“My first day coincided with the first day of remote operations. Whilst it was disappointing not being able to meet my new team in person and get set up in my new office, it was certainly interesting and no less productive. A laptop and mobile phone was delivered via courier and with a click of a button and a quick call with IT, I was all set up and ready to go. I had full access to my emails, files and online projects board so I could get up to speed with ongoing work. Instant messaging meant I could speak with everyone as if we were in the office together and video calling meant I could meet everyone and put faces to names. A first day I’ll never forget!”
Sam Parker, Communications Officer, SHIL

What about long term impact?

More broadly, to respond to Covid-19 a swift and radical change in the way the NHS does its work has been and continues to be evident. The Cabinet Secretary describes it as ‘nothing short of the most rapid reconfiguration of our health service in its 71-year history.’ Our medical leaders are doing an admirable job in navigating and leading, our NHS through this crisis. Our role at this time is primarily to support resilience in NHS and offer support in any way we can – right now this includes our input and expertise to efforts across health, social care and industry to support calls for additional equipment (ventilators, vaccines, medical components) and supporting our NHS Research Scotland – Central Management Team colleagues with significant changes in arrangements for clinical research. Responding to this crisis needs a truly collaborative approach and we are prepared to adapt to what is needed over the weeks and months ahead. Our calendars look very different, events are cancelled, product development will shortly stop, and new submissions of ideas and innovations will slow - front line patient care, rightly, is the priority. But as we emerge from the crisis, and we will, our longer-term role is to ensure we are in a position to make sure the lessons learned, the ideas, the innovations, the solutions that occur during times of challenge are captured and the systems, processes and people are ready to ensure some positives can emerge from this crisis.

One thing is evident; the world of work as we have long known it has changed for good. Equally, we have learnt that the capacity for rapid change is all around us. Innovating at speed and scale are now the norm.

“The capacity of the entire SHIL team to adapt quickly and seamlessly to remote working has been remarkable and speaks volumes for the culture that has been developed in the organisation over a long period of time. We are dedicated to supporting the magnificent national effort to defeat this virus in whatever way we can. The unity of purpose shown by politicians of all parties has been heartening. Of course, special mention must go to the First Minister, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Chief Medical Officer. They have shown exemplary leadership. Their commitment, knowledge and tone are exactly what the nation needs just now. For my part, leading the SHIL team is all about five key things: (over) communicating; focusing only on controlling only the things that I/we can control; taking one step at a time and not looking too far into the future; keeping sight of the strategic opportunities that will inevitably open up for SHIL once the crisis is over, and conserving our cash. We are a unique organisation dedicated since 2002 to support new ideas that can improve patient care. The need for our work will be even more apparent once the coronavirus has been defeated, as it surely will be.”
Graham Watson, Executive Chairman, SHIL

How are we keeping up to date with the situation?

Activity is being well coordinated by the Scottish Government - we receive daily updates and work closely with our colleagues across NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government. Our website will remain updated, any changes to our activities and events will be here, our remote contact information is also here, with the full team contactable by email and mobile. Our social channels will also ensure we regularly update our stakeholders and share the latest advice from the Scottish Government.

“I’ve worked remotely for the past three years so my day-to-day set up is not much different, which has been helpful in allowing me to focus immediate attention on managing our communications during this significant period of change. Our portfolio of projects has, and will continue to, rapidly change over the coming weeks and months to support the response to coronavirus (COVID-19); but there is great sense of support and teamwork right now, with offers of assistance and expertise being shared across teams, organisations and sectors. This collective approach is going to be even more important than ever during the coming weeks and months.”
Fiona Fleming, Communications Manager, SHIL

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