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Over 400 million people watch, listen to or access online BBC News each week. As the national broadcaster, it has an essential role to play in communicating to the world.

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the BBC faced a number of challenges to ensure that broadcast operations continued worldwide.

The challenge

With strict limits on essential attendance, the risk of a production interruption at the BBC due to an outbreak was very real.

They needed a solution that was simple to use, reliable and also effective at changing behaviours. In settings where it is commonplace for people to work closely together, it can be challenging to maintain a social distance or even know when the distance is too close.  

A crucial requirement alongside accuracy and behaviour-changing alerts was to eliminate any tracking or tracing capabilities. The adoption of something to help encourage personal responsibility to social distance from others meant that contact tracing was not required.


The solution

Tended worked with the BBC to trial our social distancing technology across several areas of the organisation to ensure suitability.

Due to the initial staff concerns, we placed considerable emphasis on employee engagement. Through our behavioural science department, we spent time with the BBC to understand their people, their concerns and developed a plan to implement our solution in a way that would best suit their unique working context.

A major element was communicating the privacy and security of our technology. Positive engagement was crucial to ensure staff wanted to wear the devices with peace of mind that Tended were upholding its core principles about personal privacy. We also provided media support during the implementation to encourage positive adoption through posters and videos.


The results

Following the initial trial, we deployed social distancing Hubs UK-wide to meet the needs of the BBC. This resulted in over 2,400 Hubs in over 40 UK locations.

To continue supporting employee engagement initiatives, we set up a dedicated BBC support email to answer any staff queries and support them with getting set up. Helpful communication and rapid responses have contributed towards building trust and alleviated pressures on the project management team. The technology became familiar and a change project very quickly transitioned to business-as-usual.

Employees have been supportive and have endorsed the solution as evidenced in feedback survey results. As well as helping to keep their people safe and limiting the chances of virus transmissions, the BBC has been able to continue its operations and deliver public services without major disruption.