Technology Record - Issue 27: Winter 2022

During 2015, Durham County councillors voted to turn the council’s social housing operation into a not-for-profit independent organisation. The operation was rechristened believe housing with the aim of becoming a leaner, more responsive, innovative and effective provider of housing services. The organisation now employs around 560 staff from building maintenance and repair specialists to accounts staff and administrators. In 2020-2021, the organisation posted a turnover of £67 million ($77 million) and had 18,000 properties under its management. During 2020, it pushed ahead with its growth plans, with 136 new homes under construction and more than 1,200 in the planning phase. Graeme Clark, IT service delivery manager at believe housing, says the recent wholesale pivot to Microsoft Teams with Gamma Teams telephony has been “a necessary technical underpinning” for its social housing operation and without the move, would not have been as successful. The move to Microsoft Teams came about because the organisation’s executive and board members decided to change the way staff worked, downsizing from five legacy buildings into two new ones, while, at the same time, enabling and encouraging staff to work from home. “Previously we’d see pretty much all staff coming into the office, and so the goal was to have around 40 per cent working from home most of the time,” says Clark, who highlighted the importance of hot-desking and collaboration spaces for office working. “Of course, we needed a new form of telephony to enable that different way of working and that’s how we ended up with the Teams project. We needed to break the link between staff and ‘their’ desk phone so that they could work from anywhere in the new building, or just pick up their laptop and work from home.” Adaptability and a willingness to embrace change was needed among the 560 workers based in North East England. “We liked the look of Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams with Gamma as the technical platform for voice and so we used the IT department as a guinea pig, putting together a pilot trial of around 10 users,” says Clark. “That proved One of the largest housing associations in North East England, believe housing, adopted Gamma's Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams to become a leaner and more responsive organisation P ROF I L ED : B E L I E V E HOU S I NG Encouraging agile working “ I appreciate the worklife balance enabled by Gamma's Direct Routing for Teams” GRAEME CLARK, BELIEVE HOUSING 150