ETF Housing Blog

Snow Days Rock and Roll!

That’s us back in the office after two and a bit ‘snow days’. We had to close the Federation’s office base because of red weather alerts as pelting blizzards and howling winds caused severe disruption across Scotland making it difficult for staff to get to work safely.

So an unexpected bonus of sledging, sna’ ba’ fights and snowpeople making I hear you say?

Well, partly. For those of us with families, enough of the white stuff to get outside, meant additionally juggling the initial excitement of kids and snow with working from home and trying to keep the ‘online office’ running.

And on that front, for ETF, there were challenges. Our emergency procedures kicked in swiftly; communicating with staff about safe travel, encouraging work from home where possible, and keeping in touch with tenants who had been in contact for support. We updated our social media about the office being closed, giving the office mobile number and tried to lighten the tone of Tweets to keep spirits up.

In between making the bairns hot chocolate (before the milk ran out and the only thing left in the local Co-Op after an hour and a half trudge through the blizzard and back was soya milk, or worse, coconut milk) I was answering emails and taking calls on the office mobile.

So, some semblance of office normality was achieved. But not without some frustration. The attempt to keep connected with the office files, emails and phones wasn’t seamless; our diary isn’t online, we can’t access and save files online and even the email functionality isn’t up the same speed or layout as it is when we’re based in the office. So simple tasks I take for granted when in the office base quickly became laborious.

Space and time to think in the midst of post-hot chocolate bliss, got me imagining doing things differently. What if we could actually do this connecting in a much more streamlined way? What if a disruption with snow wasn’t so paralysing for our office and in the bigger picture the economy? What if we transformed our systems to be fully digitally agile?

The thinking about transforming systems at ETF is not new, nor is embracing change, seeking innovation and taking risks, but the time to focus on a digital revolution for the organisation has had to take something of a back seat with other priorities taking precedence. Until recently that is.

ETF signed up to Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter last year, and I’m one of a bunch of leaders in the SCVO Digital leaders’ cohort, thinking about ways to change our organisations digitally. At ETF we’ve been talking about our digital strategy and where this fits in with the overall work of the organisation. Do the tenants we work with want to be online? If so, how could we enable more folk to get online? How can we better support learning and access to devices? How do we streamline our systems so that they truly do what we need them to?

Step in the brilliant Maddie Stark from the SCVO Digital Team, who happened to call at the right time and listen to my digi ramblings whilst in delirious snow day mode. Together we chatted about getting ETF signed up to Digital Champions training, exploring different operating systems and envisioning what digital change might look like. We talked about how ETF is partnering with People Know How through their Digital Drop Ins to bring techy genius, time and devices to sheltered housing tenants in Laichfield and how this small act that’s about to kick off could grow a movement of digitally agile people.

So the slow dancing – taking the time to think out loud about the digi woes brought by wintry weather gave me something of a rocket boost effect to plan for the digi change that is coming.

Snow days are so rock and roll!

Written by :

Clare MacGillivray