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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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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Four digital challenges for unions that might be better tackled as a movement

At the TUC Digital Lab, we ran a survey amongst our affiliated unions, looking at their readiness for digital transformation. We found a mixed picture, with a number of technical and cultural areas where unions need to do more to meet the rising digital expectations of their membership and future members.

The report made some recommendations for union leaderships in evaluating their best next steps for their organisations. But it also suggested some areas where unions could benefit by working together on digital.

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#digitalunions: Staying connected

Next year, millennials will make up more than 50% of the workforce. Those who entered work during the internet age are nearly all instinctively digital-first. They’re also mobile, connected throughout the day, from wherever they are.

From Netflix to Monzo, people expect the convenience of digital services – always available, transparent, flexible, and with them in control. Those rising expectations can be hard for established organisations like unions to meet.

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