NHS Kent and Medway

A customisable solution to facilitate a rise in hybrid working for the bespoke needs of a public sector entity such as the NHS and ICB.


When discussing issues of COVID-time capacity within an NHS context, people’s minds probably don’t automatically switch to that of an office, or of behind-the-scenes functions. However, for NHS Kent and Medway, the Integrated Care Board (ICB) faced precisely that conundrum as it looked to facilitate a rise in hybrid working among its employees. Initially set out before the pandemic, it sought to give workers more flexibility around how and where they operate. And in doing so, the ICB looked to make its own setup more efficient. In recognising this, it reduced office usage, scaling down its 13 premises to seven.

This consolidation of real estate also reflected a consolidation of the service itself, having merged seven Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) as was, into one all-encompassing organisation just prior. For both drastic restructurings to succeed, it was recognised that digital assistance was required, and Matrix Booking was the chosen facilitator of this new dynamic for as many as 800 employees.

“It was always our long-term plan to move towards hybrid working, and then the week we merged into one organisation, we were plunged into lockdown. Not only did the situation accelerate the process, but it compounded our overall decision to promote this kind of working. Since that moment, the Matrix Booking tool has been brilliant in allowing us to introduce new patterns across a reduced number of offices.”

– Darren Lightbody – Office Manager, NHS Kent and Medway

The right solution the right time

Matrix Booking’s resource scheduling solutions were implemented at an ideal time for Darren and the ICB team, with employees quickly attuned to a new way of working enforced by those initial lockdown months. Not only did the organisation need to show that they were tangibly enabling a longer-term solution to achieve a positive home-office balance, but they had to do so to a newly merged cohort of employees who would have ordinarily been required to travel further to work than before.

The flexibility afforded by the Matrix Booking solution, therefore, became especially important in the context of arranging meetings when working from home simply wasn’t sufficient. Being able to see, in real time, what is available in the form of hot desks and meeting rooms, to book a space, and to work around that confirmed schedule, has been critical for workers planning to travel in from slightly further out.

Getting the most out of spaces and people

Of course, amid so much enforced change, the organisation would expect some teething problems when asking workers to engage with a new solution. However, as many as 90% of workers now understand the importance of this collaboration and visibility tool, and are using  the system to book their desk and room usage ahead of time.

What this positive buy-in also contributes to is data – information that the ICB is now looking to translate into office developments as employees are encouraged to come in at least twice a week.

“As you can imagine in the public sector, efficiency is hugely important, so it’s critical that we look at usage rates for each office, to see where traffic is quieter or busier, and at what times. It also helps us get a better understanding of our organisation and our people, as we can see where productivity is best achieved, and whether that is transpiring in or out of the office. It all helps to get more effective use out of our offices.”

– Darren Lightbody – Office Manager, NHS Kent and Medway

A prime example of this data analysis playing out refers to people preferring to stay at home on Mondays and Fridays. This initially led to meeting rooms becoming oversubscribed during the middle of the week, so the organisation reminded workers to refer to the Matrix Booking system, encouraging them to capitalise on the reduced bookings at the start or end of the week instead.

A personal relationship

In terms of the solution’s use moving forward, a huge advantage has been its flexibility. As the understanding of different offices’ use grows stronger, new partitions and rooms have been added or taken away. Being able to simultaneously add or remove that space directly through the system has been invaluable to the speed of transitions and implementations.

Similarly, Matrix Booking has been more than happy to customise the system according to the bespoke needs of a public sector entity such as the NHS and ICB. The addition of a car parking segment to the solution has already been discussed, as has how Matrix Booking can be used to support the organisation in sharing alerts and updates.

NHS Kent and Medway logo

Responsive and open to new ideas…

“It has been, and continues to be a period of change, and those changes would have been a lot more difficult had Matrix Booking not been involved. For everything from track and trace during COVID, to signing in and seeing who’s in-office, to giving people desk and room options, to evacuation procedures, and the plans we now have moving forward, Matrix Booking has been so responsive and always open to new ideas and suggestions. The relationship feels personal, and that’s why we fought hard to ensure a continuation of this relationship when it came to the latest contract renewal.”

Darren Lightbody – Office Manager, NHS Kent and Medway

Explore how else Matrix Booking can help you

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Efficiently manage visitor sign in systems across your sites, ensuring a secure welcome and clear communication of health and safety procedures.

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Powerful reports help you keep track of occupancy levels, usage trends, and more, so that you can continually optimise your estates. 

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