Unify Blog

I work from home.  That’s what my contract says. I am an Anywhere Worker.

Confession: I take this for granted.

Each morning I get up (a little later than if I was going to the office – bonus point 1!), shower, and sit in front of my PC with my morning coffee. The phone hasn’t started ringing yet, and I am able to tackle the overnight emails and messages, see what is going on in the news that is relevant to my day, see what is trending on twitter and if I can use this in my day to day job … before realizing it isn’t even 9 am yet.

It is a leisurely yet productive start to my working day – and it also sets me up in a positive frame of mind for the madness that is my day to day activity.

The days goes ‘as usual’. As usual generally means organized chaos, executing my perfectly planned day whilst regularly re-prioritising and adapting to all those communications that you receive that completely alter your day.

Come 5pm though.. all is calm again. Office workers are commencing their commute home, and the calls and messages tail off.  Perfect quiet time for me to wrap up my day, send those messages that I never *quite* got to press SEND on, look at tomorrow’s diary – and walk away from my desk knowing exactly  what to expect the next day.  It’s a fab feeling!

I was sitting this morning with my leisurely coffee, at my desk, preparing for my day when I realized just how lucky I am.  I also started thinking (dangerous!) about how much more productive I am when I am so mentally prepared for my day when working from home.  This lead to more thinking (uh oh!).. How many hours have I saved by not having to commute? Have I really ‘saved’ these hours? Or have I converted them into ‘productive’ hours (I don’t say ‘working’ hours here – as it doesn’t feel like work!)?

So, let’s take this year so far.

(prepare for the Maths bit)

January 1st to 5th August is 218 days

Take off 31 weekends (62 days) leaves 156 ‘working’ days

I had two weeks holiday so take off 10 more working days, leaves 146 working  days

Assume I attend the office once a week for meetings, that’s a further 31 days off, so we are left with  115 working from home days.

115 working days = 230 commuting hours saved (1 hour each way per day)

230 hours is 25.55 days. Yes, 25.55 extra productive DAYS.

By not having to commute each day, I save the planet by not driving my car for 2 hours a day (shame really – it’s a very pretty car !), I am super productive and mentally prepared for my day,  I get to drink decent coffee from the machine at home, I get to work when I am personally most productive rather than sitting in a car, I don’t have to stay in the office til 7pm to complete a conference call because the noise in the car is disrupting … AND I also really am far less stressed when I start my evening with the family because I haven’t had traffic chaos or roadworks to contend with.

I work from home.  That’s what my contract says.  I am an Anywhere Worker.

And I love it.

Find out more about how you can liberate those unproductive commuting hours and convert them into productive hours visit circuit.com

 

 

 

Posted in Circuit, New Way To Work

Do you ever wonder how well the Federal Government is spending your hard-earned tax dollars? Amazingly, they continues to spend a good portion of its budget on obsolete technology. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), of the $78bn earmarked for IT in the 2015 fiscal year, agencies spent some $60bn on maintaining legacy equipment.

Of course, tech spending levels, taken out of context, rarely reflect the realities facing federal agency IT decision-makers. Legacy spending has risen precisely because of efforts to modernize the Federal Government – a goal that is unlikely to change with the next Administration.

Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. And they require leveraging both old and new investments to be operationally and financial viable.

In the case of voice communications, maintaining existing TDM backbones, multiple existing communications infrastructures and largely site-bound systems costs money. But so does transitioning to newer IP-based virtual communications environments – although the move to more flexible OPEX models should eliminate capital spend in the near term, and continue to drive down operating costs further out. And while IP promises the kind of scalability, flexibility and resilience to deliver on agency IT goals, transformation is not without risk.

A balanced way forward is therefore required – one that leverages the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

Indeed, the establishment in 2014 of the General Service Administration’s (GSA) 18F and Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) U.S. Digital Service (USDS) is helping provide a range of project support, software development, and solutions and acquisition consulting. As of 2016, the GAO reported 94% of federal IT leaders were positive of the support delivered. In the rapidly moving world of unified communications, however, will federal initiatives like 18F and the USDS help to focus IT spending for the benefit of all citizens?

 

Posted in Public Sector

We all have things to to juggle in our lives – whether it be work/kids/hobbies/family/friends/house/gym/hairdresser/dog walking or any of the seemingly endless demands on our most valuable resource: time.

As organised as you might be, there is always a mini-crisis waiting around the corner. My theory is they happen just to keep us on our toes, to challenge us and give us a reason to sink onto the sofa at the end of the day having earned a glass of something chilled – promising ourselves that tomorrow will be a less stressful day.

Today, we want it all.  Great careers, gym memberships that we actually use, 2.4 children, cream carpets (that don’t bear signs of the Great Dane and the children’s latest artwork) and a fun social life. And why can’t we have it all?

Well, that would be because of those mini-crises that occur, well, quite regularly!

You get up on Monday morning, have a civilised coffee and gradually wake up.  You have plenty of time to shower, dress and drive to work. No stress, it’s all planned. What could possibly go wrong?

Ping! You receive a text from the child-minder:

 [The dog has swallowed the car keys, sorry, can’t take your kids to school today]

Okay, no problem! You have plenty of time to get ready, so you’ll drop the children off at school on the way to work.  The day’s still perfectly planned. You can carry on drinking your coffee and just make a mental that you may have to forego washing your hair today to claw back those 20 minutes.

Ping! You receive a text from the a friend on a nearby street:

[Don’t want to panic you, but just saw your dog trotting up the road]

What??? Okay, that’s still okay. I’ll go and retrieve the dog now and still be back in time to drive the children to school. I might have to forego make-up today too, but we’ll still be on time!

A small voice from the youngest child (still in pyjamas), rings out:

“Muuuuum, i don’t feel well…”

“I’m sure you’re just fine, you just need to … oh…. right.. you really are ill…”

*sigh*

So there you are, dog on the loose, needing to do school run, one poorly child and you still haven’t finished your coffee. On top of this, getting dressed is seeming like a challenge – let alone washing your hair and putting on make-up. Your intention to visit the gym has now become throwing on trackie bottoms and scraping your hair back in order to clear up after poorly child.

In all this though, the Organisation Fairy hasn’t moved your 9.15 conference call. How inconsiderate!

But… it’s okay.

By 9:05 you have collected and distributed responsibilities – canine and human. You are sat in your home office with a fresh cup of coffee, with Circuit open and ready to join your call.  Thank goodness for new ways to work, the flexibility to truly find that ‘work-life integration’ that creates balance, but, most of all, thank goodness no one in the office has to witness your current appearance!.

Ping! Circuit message from the chairperson of your call:

[Hey All, really looking forward to speaking to you all today. Why don’t we all switch our video on…]

Well, flexible working can’t fix everything.

 

 

Posted in Circuit, Mobile Working, New Way To Work, Virtual Teams

It’s a sunny Friday morning in Milton Keynes. The kids have broken up from school for their summer holidays, but, despite this, it is a normal working day for everyone else, including me. Today, I have planned to meet two valued Unify partners on the sunny seaside coast of Southampton, a journey which involves taking the ever-reliable British motorway system. With this in mind, I planned to start my journey to Southampton an hour early, to make sure I arrive at my meeting on time.

Being an anywhere worker, I also have a number of conference calls to attend while on my journey. To accommodate this, I have brought along all my gadgets to make sure I can attend and participate in my calls safely. My pack includes a Jabra Mini Wireless Bluetooth Headset, a fully charged mobile phone and access to Unify’s innovative Circuit platform. An independent woman on the go you might say!

30 minutes into my journey, my first conference call starts. I have my very chic headset in my ear and I’m connected to Circuit, the sound is clear and I can hear everyone perfectly. I might add that, according to a well-known radio station, today is the happiest day of the year, so my day can only continue to get better. Everyone is collaborating on the call and sharing presentations on Circuit (which for safety reasons I cannot view), but there’s no need to panic the call is being recorded and the slides will be uploaded into our conversation afterwards. It’s my turn to update the team, with an excellent connection this went swimmingly and my work is done!

Now, back to my journey. At his stage I’m only 40mins from Southampton and making great time, so I treat myself to a coffee and take a break. It’s time to catch up on my emails and messages on Circuit. After a few sips of coffee and bite into my bacon roll, a Circuit call comes through, due to unforeseen circumstances my first meeting has been cancelled. Luckily, due to quick organising by my fellow channel account manager, another meeting has been booked for 11am. This partner is further away, so I get back onto the road quickly. I’m welcomed onto the M25 and a 50 mile an hour speed limit has appeared from nowhere – not unusual for the M25, as this road is seemingly always being worked on. However, there was no need to panic, as I arrive on time and begin what turns out to be a very successful meeting – I even have time to catch up on my emails and get back on the road to start my journey home earlier than expected.

My sat nav now says expected time of arrival 3:07pm, perfect! My Jabra headset goes back in and I’m ready for my soon to start conference call. After 40miles of travelling I hit the M25, it’s only 2:30pm on Friday and it’s grid locked! To pass the time, I decide to play a Circuit session recording that I could not attend earlier in the week. Time stopped dragging and traffic slowly started moving. I even made friends with fellow drivers, who said hello as they hung out of their windows for air (it’s a humid day)… of course I had my mini headset in my ear, which they could not see as the stuffy heat in the car had caused my hair to expand and cover it.

It’s now 5:00pm and I’m home much later than planned, but still smiling. I managed to work while travelling and had a productive day, even though I now look like Diana Ross, but I think that’s appropriate for a Friday night!

 

Anywhere worker =1: M25 = 0!

Posted in Mobile Working, New Way To Work, Virtual Teams
real time record keeping

It is well known that nurses want to spend time with patients, but they are often frustrated over the amount of administration needs.

Adopting electronic health records can save valuable time spent on writing, filing and finding records, releasing more time for hands-on nursing. EHRs also improve the quality, safety and continuity of care. However, nurses need to be involved in the planning and implementation of new technology and it must be emphasised that not only the technology “doesn’t bite” but, it can actually help in their journey and enable a new level of patient care and experience.

Information can be found quickly and easily with EHRs, as it will be legible and structured. A single EHR, holding all a patient’s information, can be accessed anywhere – a vast improvement on paper-based records, which are often held in different places.

In addition, patients do not need to fill out forms and answer the same questions when they move to different parts of the health system – a position that does not inspire confidence.

Nursing documentation supports the continuity, quality and safety of patient care, and nurses are familiar with the phrase “it if isn’t recorded, it didn’t happen”. A well-designed, integrated system will help.

Electronic records at bedside

EHRs now take case notes to the point of care, and make information available to all clinical staff as soon as it is entered. If lab and imaging results are available immediately, this is a significant time-saver for nurses. Having current records at the bedside means nurses can promptly explain test results or other aspects of care to patients.

Records should be updated as near to an episode of care as possible and nurses are expected to record if their notes are made later on under the NMC code. If data is entered at the bedside, records are updated while they’re fresh in nurses’ minds, without the risk of details being forgotten later (managers must remember, though, that staff shortages, rapidly changing situations and emergencies can prevent instant updating).

The more time that passes between the nurse taking the notes and then inputting the data, the bigger the risk of the inputted data being a more generic summary, rather than an detailed account. Inputting handwritten notes also risks errors and can create duplication, an unrewarding waste of time for a caring nurse.

Nurses value EHRs and how they complement their work. Those who have gone back to paper records after using EHRs realise the latter are far more efficient.

The evolution of the EHR

Recent improvements include login by smart card, which allows all practitioners (including agency workers) to move between patients without having to log in and out each time – this can save a significant amount of time if a nurse is administering medication to 10 or 15 patients. Nurses have previously complained about time spent logging in and out.

Over the years, EHRs have evolved from being a record of data or a digital flow chart to a sophisticated clinical information and contact system.

Wireless handsets, integrated into the hospital system, allow nurses to contact colleagues on and or off site rapidly, making consultation with specialists or getting help on the ward a lot easier.

The patient’s bedside terminal includes a call bell; the system can recognise that a call could be for someone else so delivers the call (or request) to a more appropriate recipient instead of a highly skilled nurse who just happens to be at the nurse station. Again, this improves time management and care.

Patient data portability

If patients are moved, their records move with them. Anyone calling up their details, whether a practitioner or a switchboard operator putting through a call, will see where they are.

EHRs also affect nursing workflows and care processes. They improve coordination across multi-disciplinary care teams and support models of care such as care pathways and

clinical networks in a way that is not possible with paper records. In addition, they can be analysed retrospectively to identify outcomes, and for audit and research purposes.

Nurses must now embrace technology changes and how they can enable them to work in ways that may be different to current practice.

Streamlined services

Time is needed to adapt to new systems. Smooth adoption can streamline clinical nursing activities, and user-friendly design and support during implementation facilitates this.

Mastery takes around 4-8 months from introduction, according to nursing professor Willa Fields. She explains that this is because nurses have a mental picture of how paper records work, so use them without thinking, and that once nurses have developed a mental picture of how EHRs work, they “zip right through it”.

A nurse who worked with paper records after using EHRs “realised just how much of an advantage even an imperfect EHR was”. Another recalled problems with paper records, which including time spent on looking for old records and restocking charts. Much time is wasted walking around to retrieve paper-based records, which is is hardly conducive to Productive Ward standards.

The EHR and what the nurse wants

Systems must to be designed around what nurses need. While nurses welcome EHRs, they are less satisfied with those that are cumbersome to use (Lavin et al, 2015).

Joyce Sensmeier, vice-president of informatics at the Health Information Management Systems Society, says “chief nursing officers must advocate for what is needed to make these systems right for nurses”.

Because EHRs can be easily adapted and hold a great deal of information, managers must consider carefully the addition of any extra fields, balancing benefits against time implications.

Making records available to patients will make them more involved in their healthcare; they will, for example, be able to highlight inconsistencies or omissions. With some models, it is is easy to copy and paste information, which means errors as well as facts can be perpetuated.

Collaborative care

EHRs bring together practitioners, care, and documentation. The whole patient journey is tracked, from initial enquiry to hospital stay, discharge into the community and follow up, improving continuity of care.

In the community, integrated EHRs also free up time for district nurses, who can access and update records on wireless tablets during visits, obtaining the same benefits for care as their hospital counterparts. Some systems can analyse journeys to patients’ homes, which can be used to minimise driving time.

A good, integrated system enables nurses in different settings to spend more time with patients.

Takeaways:

  • Electronic healthcare records that can be used at the point of care improve the quality, safety and continuity of care and free up nursing time.
  • They can also improve the nurses’ working environment, help to keep stress levels at bay, and enable enhanced quality of care and patient experience.
  • Systems must to be designed around nursing requirements, and chief nursing officers should advocate for this.
  • They can support new ways of working, and change communication with colleagues and patients.
  • EHRs have evolved from being a data record to a sophisticated clinical information and contact system.

Learn why real-time patient admin affects not only the true cost of care, but nurses’ job satisfaction, patient experience, and quality of care. Download your free report The Modern Patient Experience: Where Care Matters now.

 

 

Posted in New Way To Work

In our recent “Way We Work” study of 9000 knowledge workers, 74% of respondents said that digital technology, the internet and social media has fundamentally changed the we behave in the workplace.  And we want to bring that statistic to life with real world stories of technology…..It could be how you avoided being stuck in a traffic jam or how you managed to make that all important appointment.

With over 90% of us responding that our work-life balance is improving – we look forward to engaging with your real life examples.

Please tweet @unifyco images using #techinrealife or contribute blogs by sending them to social@unify.com

Posted in Millennials, Mobile Working, New Way To Work