Amy Olsen - Modern Desktop Environment
Article Date: 20/02/2017

Last March, I was asked to join the Modern Desktop Environment Programme to help co-ordinate a series of developments to the IT services. The Programme aimed to improve the way staff and students use technology to work and learn. With my keen interest in technology, and having spent the last year as a staff member, and the previous three years as a student here, I was eager to get on board.  

My role in the Programme is to provide support for project managers, offering advice and guidance on best practice and to service the Programme board. I also deliver the communications around the Programme. I am thoroughly enjoying my time on the Board, and have taken full advantage of the role by getting my hands on all the new stuff first! So far, I have been a guinea pig for Windows 10, Skype for Business, and OneDrive. I have found the introduction of these technologies to have a huge impact on the way I work, and the way my team works.

Initially, I must admit, I assumed the Programme would not have much of an impact on me, as working from home is not something that appeals to me (and is pretty much impossible with two very noisy, very needy house mates!). However, 'Flexible working' is more than just working from home, it's about working from wherever you need to be, whether that's a coffee shop, another institution or even on a train. We are now nearly 8 months into the Programme, and have seen some significant changes take place in the University as a result. We are already embracing these opportunities in my office, Business Improvement Services, with some team members regularly working from home once a week, and most of our meetings taking place in coffee shops both on and off campus.

As a team, we are very rarely all in the office at the same time, but O365 services, along with the help of skype for business, allow us to always stay in sync. We regularly use the video call feature of Skype for Business to attend team meetings if we are working from home or away from the office. Another feature that works well for us is the instant messenger, it's brilliant for quick responses! We have a shared OneNote, allowing us to record and update any actions or tasks from team meetings, which we can view from anywhere, on any device. We also share team documents such as action plans and business continuity plans, within the team via OneDrive. This lets the whole team to contribute to one version of a document, saving us a lot of time and difficulty trying to find a space when we are all free to work on things together.

A lot of the work we do requires involvement of others, whether that be team members, other units, or an external party. The new services, and technologies being introduced, provide us with the flexibility to achieve this collaboration quickly and easily, without having to wait for a time that suits everyone. Over the past few months, I have been working with Project Mangers to produce project documentation and monthly reports for each project. OneDrive has proven to be a godsend for this process! Creating, reviewing and updating these documents would normally involve a lot of passing documents back and forth, and saving multiple different versions (I work with several different PM's, on 14 different projects so, as you can imagine, there were a lot of copies to keep track of!). OneDrive allows us to share documents, so we can both work from the same version, easily adding, responding and tracking any updates, which makes my life a lot easier!

Overall, I am really enjoying working on the Programme and watching it evolve. The Programme has already provided lot of new, flexible ways of working, and I am excited to start seeing these in action across the university!