25 March 2020

Yesterday, we shared how we’ve made the shift to remote working. As our team continues to respond rapidly to the daily changes to UK government guidance, we’re all starting to adjust to new patterns in our daily lives, as well as quickly learning and adapting so we can continue to deliver work in the coming months.

For many organisations, the challenges of how to deliver front line services and how to best meet the needs of local communities, including the most vulnerable, are being fully realised. As part of our response at FutureGov, we want to do everything we can to support organisations as they adapt, use remote working and enable new remote service models as quickly as possible.

We recognise that during this health emergency, it’s of great importance to keep public services running while rapidly responding to the increased demand for services and support across the health system, government and the third sector. This is going to require significant changes to how services are delivered, alongside how we all adjust to working remotely while making time for our individual health and wellbeing, family and caring situations.

Why start with and continue investing in research?

This blog post is mostly an appeal to our partners and the sectors we work with:

There has never been a more important time to make research a part of your work, as we make rapid changes to front line services to help organisations continue to function and meet the needs of communities and individuals in new ways. To do this, we need ways to fully understand these needs and how they’re changing, as well as approaches for quickly evaluating and learning what is working and what isn’t.

When working under pressure, or when facing time and cost constraints, research is often the first part of a delivery to be overlooked or potentially dropped entirely. It’s been encouraging to see that research is still happening as part of the rapid response and service delivery coming from teams working in health including NHSx and NHS Digital.

As we’ve shared before, design research is about reducing risk. It’s about how we can increase the certainty we have in technology decisions, solutions, service patterns and the changes we’re implementing with front line services. It can effectively guide how we’re responding and designing what we deliver to the public, as well as how we design tools, processes and capabilities that best support staff and organisations to deliver support.

Switching to remote design and research practices

Design research has always been an important part of what we do, no matter where or how we work. So remote working or a lack of physical access to people shouldn’t mean that research activities stop.

To continue making research happen, our team has been hard at work, quickly pulling together a guide of the methods and approaches we use for design research activities: making design research work remotely

This is intended to be for everyone. FutureGov teams, as well as our clients, partners and the design community. We’ve grouped the guide by different types of research activities to show how they can be delivered and used remotely.

For now, we recommend that you use this guide:

  • as a reality check before you plan your research
  • to understand how ethical and safeguarding considerations might be affected by going remote
  • to understand which tools or approaches might work for what you need to learn
  • to understand general best practice on running collaborative workshops and activities

We recognise that not everyone has access to the same tools and technologies that allow us to work remotely. We’re already seeing organisations adapt quickly, and as always, we’re technology agnostic as much as possible. So where necessary, find, adapt and use whatever works best for you and your organisations work.

This is still work in progress (in the open), so not all of the links from the guide are public, but we’re going to work through them and release more as soon as we possibly can. We’re also aware of other organisations creating similar resources and hope this is helpful in providing something people can build from or contribute to.

With everything we’ve shared so far, we’re adapting fast and testing lots of different approaches. We’ll continue sharing what we learn as we go. We welcome feedback and would love to learn more about the work other people and organisations are doing.

Working with immediate and future challenges

While focus and immediate priorities understandably shifting, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be planning and thinking ahead. The challenges we face in the future across areas like planning, housing, the climate and adult social care are still as pressing as ever.

We’re already seeing how this pandemic is shifting the way organisations approach challenges, allowing us all to think and work in different and more innovative ways much faster. A focus on continuously working to understand user needs is not only essential work that needs to happen now, it will also allow us to think more strategically about future models for how we support organisations, places and people.

Get in touch

We’re always happy to answer any questions you have about FutureGov and discuss how we can work together.

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