Double-down on reps, not digital

By Eth Morgan & John Chadfield

We’re two tech workers; a software engineer and a product manager. Our role over the years has been to develop and maintain the kind of digital apps and tools that are now commonplace in people’s hands. We’re also trade unionists and members of the Tech Workers’ Coalition

We’d been invited by TUC Digital Labs to share our expertise in working with a TUC affiliate, the Royal College of Midwives, as part of a pilot project, looking at questions around improving the accuracy of member data – something that’s key to helping the union’s work in continually improving their membership experience.

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Benchmarking your union’s digital journey – TUC digital healthcheck 2020 edition

We’ve just released the latest version of our digital healthcheck tool, with the latest major release (version 3) seeing a significant revision. It has been more than two years since the last version and so these latest changes have been needed to reflect the fast-moving world of technology.

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Responding to the coronavirus crisis – NEU case study

At the NEU, we have been developing our use of digital channels in our response to the coronavirus crisis.

This has been a difficult time for our members, with schools mostly closed, new ways of working for teaching staff and great uncertainty for the future. It has also brought profound changes for the union and our ability to support members and activists.

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Working remotely for trade unions

The coronavirus crisis and our response have caused huge changes for all of our society, but it also brings new ways of working. Unions are having to keep on doing the same things they’ve always done but in a really different context. And they’re having to add some new things on top.

This is going to be the new normal for months. And it could change some of the ways we end up working after that too.

So we’re really keen at the Digital Lab to understand the situation and the challenges facing unions, work out where there’s good practice, and discover where there are new areas we might come together to plot a way forward.

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Answering big questions by starting small – Developing the WorkSmart prototype

The TUC’s WorkSmart project explores how unions could engage with young workers who have little awareness of us. Over the last two years we’ve developed an idea that could appeal to young workers. It’s based on their desire to get ahead in working lives that too many feel are getting stuck.

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Getting started with Service Design for unions: TUC Digital Lab workshop report

Service Design is a broad and diverse discipline which seeks to optimise an organisation’s services by focusing on aligning the experience people have of using them. It’s a way of working that’s become increasingly common across government, business and voluntary sector alike.

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Data and unions: TUC Digital Lab workshop report

To date, making decisions based on data to improve union experience has mostly been an aspiration, rather than the reality for most trade unions. There are some good examples of testing and optimisation taking place (see earlier sessions on ‘joining’ in particular for this), but it’s not as widespread as it could be. 

In October 2019, the TUC Digital Lab ran a session on how we could better use data to manage our unions. We wanted to discover the challenges we as unions face in developing a culture where data is regularly gathered, interrogated and acted upon.

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How do you get your users to actually use your union digital project?

Digital change projects are only partly about making sure a new bit of technology works. Even the best specified new tech tools won’t be any use if people don’t agree to change their current behaviour and engage properly with a new system or process.

When you’re trying to get someone to do something they wouldn’t otherwise do, you’ve got two options. You can motivate them to get over the barriers to taking the actions needed. Or you can make the barriers much easier to get over.  

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