In the midst of a global pandemic, our people are continuing their endeavour to improve health and care. In this new series, we’re speaking to our IGHI community to find out how they’re adapting to working life amid coronavirus, and the unique opportunities and challenges this has presented them.
Gianluca Fontana, Senior Policy Fellow and Director of Operations, Centre for Health Policy
“Switching our activities and interaction to a completely remote, online environment has pushed us to work differently. Online chats have replaced in-office, impromptu conversations and physical meetings have seamlessly shifted online. While lockdown hasn’t substantially impacted our operations, our engagement activities with staff and patients have been affected, which we’ve either moved online or postponed.
“Working from home can produce difficulties. For staff with children, we’ve set up a dedicated Microsoft Teams conversation, so they have a dialogue with others experiencing similar challenges. Parents at the Centre have our complete support if they’re unable to carry out all their day-to-day activities or require flexibility.
“It also challenges us to manage our physical and mental wellbeing and maintain a work-life balance. We’re supporting staff as much as possible, but this is uncharted territory. Looking ahead, I also foresee us losing the capacity of our clinical staff members if they’re required to work full-time on the frontline. I’m keen for our non-clinical staff to support them where possible.
“This digital move has shown us opportunities. I hope when the situation goes back to normal, we’ll continue our use of online platforms to strengthen our teams’ connections.”
Mahsa Mazidi, Head of Data Management, Big Data and Analytical Unit (BDAU)
“The BDAU’s normal work priorities and plans have shifted due to the surge in COVID-19 research activities here. Transitioning to remote working has been challenging, impacting both our operations and communication
“Our server is currently being accessed by over 70 users and has been in high demand, likely related to the various COVID-19 projects running on it. Our role is to support researchers with their data needs, and this is a crucial time for those working on coronavirus. To allow users to carry out their analysis without any disruptions, we’re constantly monitoring resource consumption on our server.
“We’re currently providing data management support to the researchers from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial, who aim to forecast COVID-19 hospitalisations using Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust’s data. We’re also collaborating with our IGHI colleagues to develop a data visualisation project to display global population behaviours in response to COVID-19 policies.”
Lucy Totman, Postgraduate Education Administrator (Maternity Cover)
“It’s been a massive change adjusting to remote working and adapting our MSc Health Policy course. Our in-person teaching has been swapped to online delivery, but we’re working hard to ensure that students have the same experience as if they were taking the course in-person. Two intense weeks of teaching that were due to take place in April and May have also been pushed to July.
“Delaying teaching has granted us the time to transfer all course materials online ahead of this. Many of our students are health professionals working on the frontline, so the extra time has actually been beneficial to everyone. Wary of overloading them, we’ve also extended teaching time so that students can engage with the materials at their own pace.
“We’re currently uploading lots of videos and webinars for students while editing them into shorter, manageable, 10-15-minute clips. Using platforms like Blackboard makes you thankful for the modern age, as it’s simple to move things online.
“Dealing with change and uncertainty during the pandemic has been difficult but, positively, I’ve been able to ‘meet’ staff online that I wouldn’t have met at the coffee machine in the office.”