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We will be the first Voluntary Mediation Service in UK to achieve full remote working for our team.
The challenge that we are attempting to do is something that has not been tried by any of the mediation services in UK . Enabling remote working and access to our software database by a team of volunteer mediators is going to be a challenge but feasible providing correct equipment and monitoring and support is in place by the Hub. It would enable us to provide online services across the boundaries and increase our revenue and sustainability of our free service delivery for local community. This would also eliminate duplication of admin task entries; the amount of photocopies/print outs we produce, reduce the amount of travel for the mediators (which in turn would lower emissions) and also work towards the possibility of remote mediation sessions via telephone/video conferencing.
We have undergone restructuring within our service and updated our IT and software systems to enable all the mediators to remotely enter their own case notes and manage their own case load independently of the Office Hub. We are currently in Phase 2 of our plan which focuses on training our mediators/staff to be able to do their tasks remotely and implementing the necessary technological changes to allow them to do this.
We are working toward completing Phase 2 by March 2016, allowing us time to prepare training programmes, purchase the necessary technologies and finalise everything.
Our plan for Phase 2 is set out below:
1. Implement working from home, thus reducing carbon emissions: By having our current database available at home, it will allow our mediators to access records and notes without having to travel into the office. By doing this it will reduce carbon emissions, petrol costs and improve time efficiency by allowing them to enter casework straight onto our database. This will also allow our mediators to prepare everything before attending joint meetings or shuttles – and avoid aborted initial visits etc where possible.
2. Telephone Conferencing from home: By doing this it will save time traveling out to “out of area” cases (sometimes covering 80 miles round trip). This idea also opens up the possibility of carrying out initial mediation assessments from the Office Hub/or mediators’ own home where appropriate, which would not only cut down on emissions and petrol costs to the mediators but also our clients.
3. Video Conferencing from home: Implementing video conferencing would allow core staff/supervisors to meet and discuss case work evaluation and case management from home without incurring additional travel costs, room hire fees etc.
4. Purchase tablet computer: We are hoping to purchase a Tablet Computer for staff to use who have no access to computers at home or for use when traveling home after mediation case work. This would improve time efficiency for mediation case notes to be uploaded onto the mediation database as soon as a visit has finished. Or even input data on to the system during the mediation process. It would also reduce the number of photocopies/print outs that the Office Hub provides.
5. Continue our current implementation plan: We hope to continue our current plan of encouraging car sharing, using company emails to reduce having to attend office hub etc. whilst working towards our new ideas above.