With face-to-face contact out of the question, organisations in the health, social care, and education sectors are turning to technology to function or keep a sense of normality. For those who have been slow or reluctant to integrate technology in the past, employee engagement and service delivery challenges mean these have become an urgent necessity. Even after the crisis is over, the technological transformation of organisations across the UK, and indeed the world, could – and arguably should – be here to stay and benefit employees and the public for years to come.
For many, not being able to see relatives and loved ones is one of the hardest parts of lockdown. In the health and social care sector, this has meant having to adapt quickly to new, digital methods of communication. The NHS is working with technology firms to provide the most vulnerable and isolated people with support and companionship through the crisis. Facebook is providing up to 2,050 of its Portal Video calling devices for free to hospitals, care homes, and other settings. Over 90% of GP surgeries in Devon have signed up to digital consultation that enables patients to access services online.
Many things cannot be replicated digitally. However, these sectors embracing new ways of doing things could pioneer communication methods that are more accessible for everyone in the future. For example, those who struggle with mobility but still want to visit a loved one in a care home now know that digitally communicating with them is an option staff are more able to facilitate.
The shift towards digital solutions has not just been for those who use services, but for those who staff them too. Whether desired or not, individuals have adapted to remote and flexible working patterns, challenging organisations who have been reluctant to embrace these practices in the past. The likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become such an integral part of the new ways of working that they’ve entered the vocabulary of those who’ve never needed or used them.
We know that some workplaces and service providers have been slow to adapt to the changes in the technological revolution, but COVID-19 has made what was once a choice now a necessity. Whether running companies or a virtual pub quiz, digital solutions have been needed, used, and embraced by all of us in lockdown. The way technology is used to facilitate our day-to-day lives may have changed for good.