Help us make our mental health meet-ups better

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. During last year’s, Tom Walker wrote a post about why and how he set up Co-op Digital’s mental health meet-ups. A year on, Tom’s left but our fortnightly gatherings remain.

Now feels like a good time to kick off a conversation about what we can do to make sure they’re as helpful as they can be.

We’re looking for your suggestions.  

The idea’s still the same

Simon Hurst and I run the meet-ups now. It’s important to make it clear that, like Tom, we’re not doctors either. We’re not qualified to diagnose a mental illness and we’re certainly not qualified to prescribe remedies.

But the meet-ups are a place where colleagues can speak freely, in confidence, and know that they’re among empathetic people. A year on, this stuff is still the same.

Meet-ups are still open to everyone, they’re still informal. There’s still no minutes, no register, no pressure.

But the numbers have dropped

Recently, we’ve noticed that fewer people are coming to meet-ups. Of course, that could be seen as a really good thing – people don’t feel that they need the meet-up anymore because they’re feeling happier and healthier.

As much as we’d love to believe that, we don’t think that’s the case.

Time to make changes

The lunchtime meet-ups did a job. They got people within Co-op talking about mental health, often publicly, often openly. They helped reassure people they didn’t need to feel ashamed and that they weren’t alone.

It’s clear from speaking to people that even though there appears to be less demand for a mental health meet-up every other week, the idea of it existing, the idea of it being there if it’s needed, is comforting.

However, it’s time to adapt to meet people’s needs. We asked people who attend for their thoughts.

We learnt that:

  • some people find getting out of the office, in the fresh air, over lunchtime helps them most and, ironically, the meet-up was messing with that
  • everyone’s busy and taking time out in the middle of the day isn’t always easy

In response to that, here’s what we’re thinking of trying:

  1. Arranging walks – mental health meet-ups where we can walk and talk and take people out of the office.
  2. Drop-in slots – spreading out the times when we could meet up so there’s no set time and support’s there as and when it’s needed.
  3. Changing the day of the meet-ups.

Let us know what you think in the comments. Your feedback matters.

Mental health first aid training

We recently invited Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) into Co-op Digital and a handful of colleagues took part in a mental health ‘first aid’ training course. The idea is that we can look after team mental health and morale better if we have ‘first aiders’ who recognise early on when team members are struggling.  

In theory, agile teams are fairly healthy. Relatively speaking. Agile ceremonies like daily stand-ups and fortnightly retros act as check-ins with the team – they’re places to bring up struggles, blockers and concerns.

But the take-away point from the training was that we all need to learn how to listen. In Digital, our job is to solve problems. Because of this, it’s easy to throw ‘answers’ out to colleagues who are struggling. The training taught us how effective just listening, without proposing solutions, can be.

Help and be helped

Co-op Group offers advice on setting up a mental health support group. There’s also an Employee assistance programme.

And there’s us, in Digital. You can request to join our dedicated and private mental health Slack channel.

We’ll continue to be here, in whatever format works for our colleagues and friends. Your feedback will shape this. We hope to hear from you soon.

Becky Arrowsmith
Engineer

Karen Lindop: Agile Manchester plus work begins on personalised digital offers

(Transcript) Karen Lindop: Hello, and welcome to our update on what’s happened in the Digital team this week. It’s been a short week, but there’s no shortage of things going on in the team.

We’re proud to have been a sponsor of Agile Manchester this week. As always it’s been a brilliant couple of days, thank to the organisers who have done a great job. Also a massive thank you to Gillian MacDonald, Neil Vass, Ian Thomas, Danny McCarthy, Cara Bermingham who all presented, doing a fantastic job of representing the team and Co-op at the event.

This week our Membership ‘join in’ monthly email was released. This month we’re focussing on pizza, neighbourliness and digital coupons – so there’s something there for everyone. If you’re interested in finding out more you can from our Membership website.

You may remember reading a few months ago a blog post about about the discovery work that some of the team did in partnership with our food colleagues to investigate personalised offers for our members. Well the team have reformed, with the aim of building an end-to-end test of personalised offers via digital channels, ready to test with real members in Q3, 2018.

They are made up of colleagues from our Food business, Retail IT and Digital, each bringing their own expertise to different parts of the service. If you’re interested in finding our more they’re based on the 13th floor of Angel Square.

This week we’ve had some new people join us. Tom Clegg, Daniel Cork, Paul Clarkson, Tom Simcox and Marianne Knowles all join our design community. We also welcome Dale Hudson and Michael Doyle as front-end developers. Welcome to Co-op everyone, it’s great to have you here.

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to subscribe for all our updates on our blog and follow us on Twitter. See you next week.

Karen Lindop
Head of Digital Operations

Karen Lindop: Camp Digital and the Co-operative Education Conference, plus Shifts has 17,500 users

(Transcript) Karen Lindop: Hello, and welcome to our update on what’s happened in the Digital team this week.

You may remember last week I talked about the go live of Shifts to all our Food store colleagues. At the start of last week we had 4,200 users. We’ve now got an incredible 17,500 users! Plus 93% of our stores have at least one user and 65% of users are accessing it accessing daily. Well done to Chris and the team, you’re doing a great job! Thank you.

Linda Humphries and Emer Coleman both did an amazing job this week representing Co-op. Linda talked about the positive effects of working in the open at Camp Digital and Emer was at the Co-operative Education Conference sharing the story of Federation, talking co-ops, digital and democracy.

Talking of events, we’ve just announced the first in The ‘Federation presents’ series. On the 30 May we are really proud to host an evening were we talk about Modern Slavery in Tech with the incredible Mary Mazzio.

Mary joins us in The Federation to talk about her documentary ‘I am Jane Doe’. It’s a look at how tech can be an enabler of modern slavery without appropriate regulation. Mary will talk about her decision to make the film and the role it has played in generating such focus on the issue and the political and social response.

She’ll then be joined by Co-op’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, Paul Gerrard, and Craig Melson, Programme manager, Tech UK on a panel hosted by our CMO Matt Atkinson. We’ll add the link to our blog, be sure to get your tickets early!

Our user researchers have been thinking about what underpins the way they work, and as a result they’ve created some principles. We published them this week on our blog and James and the team would love to hear what you think about them. We’ve already had some great feedback via Twitter which we really appreciate.

Finally, thank you to Richard Sullivan and Kim Morley who ran another Digital Masterclass last week. We had a great mix of Co-op colleagues from across our businesses and from lots of different disciplines. The feedback was brilliant, and we’ll be running another this month. If you’re a Co-op colleague watch this space for the date, also you can contact Richard or Kim if you want to know some more about it.

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to subscribe for all our updates on our blog and follow us on Twitter. See you next week.

Karen Lindop
Head of Digital Operations

Introducing our user research principles

UR_Principle_6-small

Our user research community of practice has been thinking about how we should approach our work. We decided to produce a set of principles that we believe underpin our purpose and our ways of working.

‘Principles’ are general to the practice of user research, yet specific to those creating them. We want them to work for us in our context, here at the Co-op. They’re specific to us: part of an organisation going through digital transformation, one with stakeholders; business needs; many digital products and services as well as a range of colleague, member and customer users. The principles may not be as applicable where you work if you have an established culture of agile and product thinking.

We want to hear what you think

Various versions have been stuck up on the wall for a while now and colleagues have given us their feedback. We’re now keen to get feedback from the wider community, too.

That includes you.

Leave a comment below, @CoopDigital on Twitter or email Head of User Research James Boardwell to let us know if you think:

  • we’ve missed anything out, or, included something that shouldn’t be there
  • something could be clearer
  • some of these principles aren’t strictly principles

We’d also like to know how valuable working with principles has been for you. Do share any examples you use.

We’re particularly interested in hearing from people who work with disadvantaged or vulnerable users, and / or with data and ethics.

Here’s the latest version.

Focus on what users do, not what they say they’d do

Observing users’ behaviour is the best indicator of what they will do in the future, and the gateway to understanding needs and motivations.

Do a little, often

Frequent research helps teams iterate on a product and validate product decisions more often, which helps promote a user-centred culture.

Give teams the evidence to make better decisions

We research and test the team’s assumptions so that decisions are based on evidence, not guess work.

Involve everyone in research

It promotes empathy and helps teams and stakeholders understand users needs.

Promote accessibility for all

We champion building products and services that are usable across all accessibility needs.

Represent users faithfully

We speak truth to power and if users’ needs are not being met, we say so. This keeps the product teams and the organisation honest.

Undertake the best research we can in any given situation

Sometimes we can’t do user research as we would like. In this instance doing some is better than not doing any.

Respect the privacy and integrity of the user

Our ability to perform our role depends on the trust we have with participants.

 

You can download our user research principles. But keep in mind they may change after feedback.

We hope our principles become ingrained our delivery teams as well as act as gentle reminders for user researchers.

User research community 
Co-op Digital

Karen Lindop: Shifts is live plus learning to be mental health first aiders

(Transcript) Karen Lindop: Hello, and welcome to this week’s and my first Co-op Digital update.

This has been a big week for our team working in partnership with our colleagues in Food as well as Equal Experts and UsTwo. All Co-op Food store colleagues have access to Shifts, a website that allows them to view their past and upcoming shifts; who’s scheduled to work each shift in their store; their shift preferences; their break entitlements, as well as the payday calendar.

It’s been a real co-operative effort and a great example of us all working as ‘One Co-op’. You can hear what colleagues think about it on our YouTube Channel. Well done and thank you to everyone on the team, past and present.

But that’s not it for Shifts, the team will keep listening to colleagues, continually adding features and improving the experience.

Our Member Voice team held an end of discovery show and tell on Thursday. We’ll share their findings on our blog soon, so keep an eye out for that. The team have also recently hit the milestone of over 100,000 members joining opportunities – from helping to design a member wine, to sharing their thoughts and experiences on apprenticeships. Well done to Mark and the team.

On Thursday we welcomed students from our Priesthorpe Academy in Leeds. They got to meet a number of our teams and learn about The Federation. A big thank you James and our friends at Northcoders who also spent some time with all the students.

Finally, some of the team spent some time this week learning how they can be ‘mental health first aiders’. We’ll share more about this shortly on our blog. But thank you to those who took part and for Mental Health First Aid England for their support.

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to subscribe for all our updates on our blog and follow us on Twitter.

Karen Lindop
Head of Digital Operations

Co-designing the Shifts website

This week, we made the Shifts website available to all Food store colleagues.

The website means colleagues now have far more visibility over their work schedules and their days off. They can access Shifts from their personal devices too so they don’t have to be in work to look at their rota.

This is a big deal. It’s empowering. It’s a game-changer.

In September 2017, we started testing the Shifts site with colleagues from 10 stores. By November, 600 people across 120 stores were using it. That quick uptake was a sign we were getting things right. We hadn’t asked more people to test it – colleagues had shared the site with neighbouring stores because they saw value in the product we’d designed.

Experts. Lots of them

Experts from several areas came together, bringing their knowledge and expertise. Shifts was designed and built by:

  • Food colleagues at HQ 
  • Food store colleagues (informed the design through their feedback and how they interacted with the product)
  • Co-op Digital
  • UsTwo (completed alpha phase)
  • Equal Experts (built the site)

Shifts’ success is down to collaboration

It’s not an accident that (so far) Shifts has been a success. It’s a superb example of co-design and collaboration. This post picks out examples of when working together, listening, and considering quantitative and qualitative research meant we designed a much better product.  

Listening to colleagues

Ustwo ran the Shifts alpha phase. The prototypes we tested with store colleagues confirmed our assumptions – we were on the right track to designing something useful. But, it was the time Ustwo spent with colleagues that was most valuable because it helped us find lots of features colleagues needed that we didn’t anticipate. We found that a very common user need was having the visibility to see who was scheduled to work on the same shift. Their research in context helped us get to grips with the more human side of colleagues’ needs.

Looking at data

We looked at data to make improvements too. For example, the data showed that the vast majority of colleagues didn’t look at their past schedules so we adjusted the site to just show the past 12 weeks rather than 52.

When we spoke to colleagues we found there was confusion about the laws around break times so we included a feature on the site that set this out clearly. We’d put this in a prominent position alongside colleagues’ shifts, but the data showed that it’s not something people used repeatedly – they checked it once, learnt the rules and had no need for it again. So, we put it on a separate webpage so colleagues could reference it when they needed to, rather than seeing it every time they log in.  

Learning from past experience

Shifts was always going to be behind a log-in so we looked to the ‘My HR’ app that also has one. To log into My HR, colleagues need their colleague number and a password that was sent to their personal email account. However, we knew that wasn’t working well because many colleagues don’t have a personal email address. Managers also said it’s time consuming to collect those details.

We wanted to make Shifts as easy as possible to log into for the first time. So with My HR in mind, we introduced a simple login requiring the employee number (colleagues use this every day to clock-in so they’re familiar with it) and their mobile phone number. Using these details we authenticate and send a login token by SMS, so the process is still secure.

No training needed

Often when organisations introduce a product or service it’s necessary to spend time and money on training for whoever will be using it. This isn’t the case with Shifts. Because we’ve designed it alongside Food colleagues and have tested it with them, the language is familiar and written in user-centred, plain English and the design is intuitive.

Never finished, always improving

We designed in the open and estimate that around 600 colleagues had the chance to input into Shifts and decide the features. Although we feel confident that, with their help, we’ve built the right thing, it doesn’t mean we’ll stop listening to feedback now and iterating accordingly.

If you’re a store colleague, you can log into Shifts now. There is a link at the bottom of every page where you can leave feedback.

Chris Ward
Workstream lead

Before work on Shifts kicked off, Chris was an area manager in south-west London. He’d seen time-consuming processes and difficult-to-use systems first-hand. He moved to Manchester as a subject matter expert to help design Shifts.

Shifts is now available to all Food store colleagues

Today, all Co-op Food store colleagues have access to Shifts, a website that allows them to view:

  • their past and upcoming shifts
  • who’s scheduled to work each shift in their store
  • their shift preferences
  • their break entitlements
  • the payday calendar

Image shows screenshots of 3 screens from the Shifts website.

Managers can also view their stores productivity and see who’s using Shifts in their team.

We’re working on new features to add to the website too. We’ve found a need for colleagues to be able to:

  • check their holiday balance and book holidays
  • see new features as they’re added to Shifts
  • manage their availability

We’re also planning to add the following features for the management team:

  • check colleague shift availability
  • approve holidays
  • create financial forecasts

So far, so good

We tested the website with colleagues in 140 stores over the last year. Here are some of their thoughts.

Quick history of Shifts

In March 2017, Co-op Digital product lead Anna Goss posted that we’d identified a range of ways we could give time back to Food store colleagues. She described how we chose which 3 discoveries we’d take forward to alpha phase.

By August, we were taking Shifts prototypes (then called My Schedule) into stores and testing our assumptions with colleagues and iterating based on their feedback.

A month later, we’d rolled the website out a little more and were testing it with colleagues in 10 stores. Without us asking them to, they shared the log in page with colleagues from neighbouring stores and by November, 600 people across 140 stores were using the app.

We’d known there was a need for the product and this natural uptake was a good indication that it was meeting needs.

A success story

Shifts’ success is down to the collaborative design process. We’ll post about that later this week.

Co-op Digital team

If you’re a Co-op Food store colleague, you can log into Shifts now.