This guidance note is an interim policy statement bringing together and re-stating existing guidance, pending the adoption of a refreshed suite of policy and procedures as part of our ongoing information compliance work.
We will also, over the next few months, need to adopt fuller guidance about issues like the use of ‘employee-owned devices’ when we move to the Office 365 suite available to Cleveland in due course under the police national enabling programme.
It is also acknowledged that some teams within the OPCC may have utilised WhatsApp more frequently during 2020 as a way of communicating efficiently and effectively during the Covid-19 lockdown, when remote working became the norm and direct face to face interactions in the office became much less feasible.
This updated guidance document is an opportunity to remind staff that WhatsApp is not an approved business tool of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and therefore it should not be used as a substantive method of holding and/or exchanging business information for one-to-one, work-related correspondence between colleagues.
At this time, the OPCC only supports (and recommends) the use of WhatsApp for business purposes in the form of a limited number of chat groups. These groups carry OPCC logos and have defined business purposes.
The policy for work-related WhatsApp groups appears later in this document and is unchanged from previous guidance.
Staff are encouraged to maximise the use of the most appropriate choice of existing communications methods provided for business use, including email, telephone and if appropriate, Jabber, to engage with their colleagues on a one-to-one basis about work-related issues.
It is hoped that the integration of Microsoft Teams on our computer systems will give us even greater functionality to interact remotely as individuals and teams, using a mix of face to face interaction and instant messaging – as well as providing opportunities for similar informal, inter-organisational correspondence with partner organisations outside the immediate Cleveland Police network.
These recommendations not only encourage good information management, but should limit the amount of work correspondence received on personal devices – promoting a healthy work-life balance and drawing a separation between personal and work-related conversations with colleagues.