Oxford's evolving IT needs

Back in March last year, online meetings suddenly became the standard for all, rather than the curiosity of an intrepid few. Our desk phones were replaced in the blink of an eye by headsets and webcams, as we moved to remote working. This way of communicating will continue to be extremely valuable, especially as we see an increasing mix of remote and on-site working in the future.

What was the challenge?

Desktop computers managed for staff across UAS and GLAM were not always equipped for online meetings, and this presented us with a huge challenge. Buying the headsets and webcams we were familiar with became impossible as UK and US stocks were snapped up in the early days of lockdown - the COVID-19 impact on manufacturing means that global supply chains are still extremely limited, even ten months on.

How did IT Services manage this issue?

Working with our key suppliers, IT Services identified and tested alternative headset and webcam models, ensuring that they met our high standards and could be obtained quickly, in large quantities and at lower cost. Working with colleagues across the University, we assessed demand and purchased an initial supply of 450 headset and webcam sets in October.

We quickly implemented an efficient distribution system, so that units needing equipment were able to access it quickly and easily for essential staff who needed to work on site. This meant we were able to support the Bodleian Libraries substantial return to on-site work at the time, as well as several departments with smaller requirements.

What’s next then?

We have secured support from Silver Group to meet the already registered need for around 1,500 sets, without any internal recharging.

By identifying headset and webcam models that are good quality, reasonably priced, compatible with our standard systems, and from an existing preferred supplier, we have also made it simple for departments to place their own orders for headsets and webcams to meet other needs. This includes provision for staff who are working from home, who do not use our managed staff desktop service or requirements beyond the essential needs supported by Silver Group. Departmental administrators and office managers are the coordination points within each unit - staff should contact the relevant person in their unit for advice.

Further guidance is available on our Remote working options for the managed staff desktop page.