For many in the NHS, in-person contact with colleagues has become rarer during the pandemic. An HSJ webinar, supported by IBM, explored the possible consequences of increased remote working.

Telephone headset and keyboard

There is much the pandemic has caused us to miss. For David Probert, that includes the experience of meeting new starters at his trust during fortnightly induction sessions.

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“It’s only an hour, but you hear a bit about their life, and why they’ve come here, and what they want to learn, and what they’re anxious about. And that’s valuable for me because then, when I meet people 12 months down the line in the corridor, I can feel like I can relate to them on a human level.”

With the move to remote working, it is something Mr Probert – chief executive at Moorfields Eye Hospital Foundation Trust – said he has not yet found a way to replace. “How do we not lose that human, emotional side to what we’re trying to do, which is what our business is all about?”

“I think, as we get more mature and more experienced in what is ‘the new normal’, we will end up with much more blended models”

During a recent HSJ webinar held in partnership with IBM, it was suggested that the solution might be to move to a hybrid way of working: often remote, but with regular chances to come onto site to see colleagues in person.

It’s a move which, suggested Mark Davies, mirrors developments in other sectors. “I chair a global network of chief medical officers from different industries and, as you can imagine, they talk about some very tricky balances around keeping people safe, keeping people well, and ensuring the successful delivery of work.

“Often that involves a blended model of sometimes being at home, sometimes being in the workplace, but a real clear design focus around what it means to things like collaboration. I think, as we get more mature and more experienced in what is ‘the new normal’, we will end up with much more blended models, and much more autonomous decision making for teams, about how they best deliver their responsibilities.”

Click here for on demand recording of the webinar.

What does a growing need for remote working mean for the NHS?