During the pandemic, tech platforms have come into their own – but looking beyond the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams in keeping us connected while working remotely, digital tools and software have proven themselves. In the past year, our Contract Manager software has been used for a number of NHS Nightingale and COVID ward transformation projects around the country.
Chief executive Simon Hunt discusses the all-important need for flexibility in our support of healthcare clients, and why digital software needs to be a standard aspect of the project toolkit.
The impact of COVID
What COVID has proven to everyone in business is that use of tech is going to be a de facto step for every business. Being able to remain connected and productive has only been possible thanks to our quick deployment of different tools, but it has also proved that ‘working from home’ does not translate to ‘not working’.
This is only going to be a positive thing moving into the future, as those who were previously anti-tech or anti-remote working have seen the real benefits to both over the past year. As we move towards what resembles normal life again, many of these tools will remain part of our every day lives. While we are all yearning to get back on site and to in-person meetings, we have also seen the productivity benefits of no travel time – and expect there will be a blended approach to meetings in the future to ensure better, more efficient use of time.
We have all had to approach our work – no matter what we do – from a place of empathy and humanity, knowing that everyone in the working world has had their personal and professional stresses to deal with thanks to COVID-19. Time has certainly been one of the biggest challenges facing anyone working with healthcare clients over the past year – especially NHS Trusts.
Adapting for our clients
Being part of a support mechanism has been invaluable, and at Sypro this empathetic approach has driven how we have been working particularly with our healthcare clients, from offering more one-to-one sessions, holding meetings at unusual times to support clients’ timescales, and providing overall flexibility of our service.
This is also where specialist software can allow construction experts an extra level of flexible support for these clients, to make their lives as easy as we possibly can during the most challenging of times.
Our own contract management software Contract Manager is one such tool that clients have really benefitted from during the pandemic, being able to administer their contracts from wherever and whenever they need to. And it has clearly proved itself a valuable part of the project toolkit, with our overall volume of contract requests so far in 2021 rising by more than 50 per cent on the same time in 2020 – and the total project value of those projects has risen by more than 350 per cent.
Helping our Healthcare Professionals
However, certain sectors are set to remain under great pressure for many months and even years to come – healthcare. Those working within this sector – particularly NHS Trusts – have understandably been under the biggest amounts of pressure they will ever have faced, and as the fallout of coronavirus continues it will bring with it new challenges and pressures.
Estates teams have had to re-deploy services within their existing stock to make way for COVID wards and have had to re-examine and re-distribute budgets for capital projects. But the pandemic recovery will stretch far beyond the end of wider restrictions on the public and will change the way healthcare projects are approached forever.
These changes will no doubt bring additional pressures to our healthcare professionals who have been under continual stress since the outbreak of COVID-19, with no break. There will be a huge backlog of treatments and medical needs for the wider public that the NHS will need to keep up with, and with that will come the requirement for more schemes requiring the redevelopment of existing spaces or the provision of new facilities.
This will include moving services around, re-fitting existing buildings for different purposes and introducing elements to help tackle future pandemics, such as improved ventilation systems. And this is all against a backdrop of working to meet targets for net zero carbon set by government and future treatment needs.
By embedding digital software like Contract Manager within project toolkits, healthcare estates teams will be able to adopt a much smoother and more adaptable approach to their projects. And for built environment specialists, it’s crucial that our consultancy and tools heighten accessibility and accelerate processes – but also that we ensure our services stem from the all-important human angle of empathy too.