Many staff in the service became accustomed to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting an increase in wellbeing. This led to different staff perspectives on resuming face-to-face working in offices and clinics. A collaborative approach was taken to exploring the needs and preferences of staff and patients. By avoiding imposing a ‘one size fits all’ approach, our collaborative engagement with staff led to everyone feeling engaged in the decision-making around modes of working. This resulted in significantly increased face-to-face appointments and supporting good staff wellbeing.
Staff wellbeing issue
The majority of our staff enjoyed working from home and it was also beneficial for their wellbeing. It was particularly needed by some, such as those who joined during remote working and live at distance. For others, it facilitated child care or allowed them to exercise or take part in other personal wellbeing activities more easily than if travelling to and from a workplace.
We held a virtual ‘extraordinary’ service-wide meeting to explore working arrangements and understand different perspectives.
We shared data on recovery, performance and modes of session delivery. Information was presented on NHS England’s request to be guided by patient choice in terms of treatment delivery modes, as well as taking into account the NHS People Promise to staff. We heard from two patients who shared their views and experiences on remote and face-to-face service delivery. We similarly heard from clinicians and administrative and support staff who shared a range of perspectives on different modes of working.
We also held some informal polls on working patterns and sought to collectively find approaches that balanced the needs of patients, commissioners, staff and other key stakeholders.
We found that ‘one size fits all’ was not going to meet the needs of all our staff or patients and a mandated approach would not be appropriate. We collectively agreed to continue to negotiate and agree working patterns individually to meet individual and service needs.
We hope our needs-led approach will continue while recognising that some staff want greater certainty over continuity into the longer-term. We will continue to take a collaborative approach to adapting our approaches that balance the needs of patients and staff.