Building Digital Resilience — A foundation for digital capabilities
What does digital capability mean to you in your organisation? Is it a baseline of foundational skills that are available to all people? Is it workplace specific tasks and systems, and why does it matter? These are some questions we were asking when we first began considering digital capabilities at The Children’s Society. One key question that kept coming to the forefront was: What do we mean when we say Digital? It became clear quite quickly that no singular definition existed.
We have a diverse range of roles, some that work directly with a digital remit, some that need to engage service users via digital means, and others for whom digital activity forms only a small part of their day-to-day, so the different perspectives to consider here were wide ranging. Identifying this divide enabled us to create a working definition of digital — ‘our ways of working in the internet-era’ — the space where people and technology meet; where our people’s skills, knowledge and ideas can be maximised and brought to life through thoughtful application of tools, systems, data, and platforms.
So where are the gaps?
We needed to understand how our teams were currently performing to provide a meaningful solution, and in doing this, we needed to dig deeper into our digital culture. The necessary shift to remote working prompted by the pandemic provided many valuable benefits, greater flexibility, autonomy and collaboration to name a few, so it was important to consider how we move forward with our digital ways of working. We were also acutely aware that with digital now being an ever-growing part of our everyday life, it has the power to easily overwhelm us. Our working days have become less about time management, and more about attention management — finding ways to keep pace with the instantaneous nature of our digital working environment. We understood that the initial, pandemic-driven shift was reactive, but we now needed to create space to be more intentional in building our new normal — an environment where digital supports each of us to bring our best and maximise our delivery.
“Our ways of working in the internet-era’ — the space where people and technology meet; where our people’s skills, knowledge and ideas can be maximised and brought to life through thoughtful application of tools, systems, data, and platforms.”
Our People First Approach
Our approach included a necessary focus on getting the basics right and supporting our frontline practice staff, but alongside this we researched and developed understanding around the mindset with which people approach digital. It became clear that in the fast-paced world of digital we need to equip people to respond with resilience to the shifting landscape and build an environment in which they can feel ready for the inevitable change. Digital working rarely sits still for long and as an organisation who strive for continuous improvement, it can sometimes feel like we are in a constant state of flux — for many of us these changes form a significant part of the overwhelm we feel in this digital world.
We recognise that a healthy digital culture not only acknowledges the impact that this changing digital landscape has on our people but commits to providing the learning and support to reduce the potential overwhelm and subsequent burnout.
Our Commitment to Digital
Our first commitment was to provide digital resilience training for all staff. Working with The Happy People, a well-respected provider of resilience training, we developed a bespoke training session that provided interactive discussion and practical support around what it means to be resilient when we live and work in a world that’s always on. The sessions allowed space to dig deeper into how we respond to new working practices and the changes we face as our work grows and evolves, helping staff to set themselves up to feel confident and curious about the digital opportunities we encounter and reduce overwhelm and stress.
A safe support network
We also identified areas where we could create the kind of safe-space environment that is so vital to allowing curiosity to flourish. We knew that support for digital queries was reduced by an increase in hybrid working. When you’re in the office you can tap somebody on the shoulder, learn something over a coffee, or get an update from an overheard conversation. It was imperative to build in opportunities for informal and formal support in this new era of hybrid working. In response we have established weekly digital drop-in sessions where team members are able to raise queries and test new functionalities in a safe, low-pressure space.
A strong foundation
Finally we have built a series of bite-sized content that supports our teams with the everyday tasks. We’ve branded these as ‘Digi-Bites’ and they consist of a series of short, task-focussed videos (5 minutes or less) that our team can use on demand. It was important for us that this content feel personal, relevant and that we were meeting our learners where they are.
Where do we go from here?
Much of what we’ve delivered and envisioned is just the beginning, and we will now look to embed what we’ve begun in wider areas of work across The Children’s Society, including our wellbeing plan and cultural development. In summary, digital working is a necessary part of our new normal and it’s vital that our digital solutions don’t create barriers, but instead unlock hidden potential and enable our people to bring their best. This means we need to focus on how our ways of working feel just as much as the learning and resources we share.
Digital transformation starts with people. By empowering our teams and building their resilience we can create a solid foundation on which to launch effective and lasting change. Find out more in our ‘Building Capabilities’ Case Study and watch out for the next blogs in our Digital Fund series.
Claire Gregory — Organisational Development Specialist (Digital)
Katrina Brandt — Talent Development Partner