BT draws a bead on key coronavirus issues with its Global Research and Innovation Programme

In order to better help its customer deal with Covid-19 related issues, BT altered the course of its Global Research and Innovation Programme.

BT originally developed the Global Research and Innovation Programme (GRIP) to connect its global research and information centers with universities and research institutions, but BT switched the focus of GRIP to the coronavirus pandemic's impact.

"We wanted to use our unique capabilities to make a positive impact," said Nader Azarmi, who is the head of GRIP, in blog post. "So, in May 2020 we activated our GRIP network for good, hosting our first Global Coronavirus Workshop to unite some of the most brilliant technology research teams across the globe and tackle emerging issues from the pandemic."

In the first workshop, researchers and faculty from Australia, China, UAE, India, the U.S. and the U.K. took part in discussions on how they could limit the impact of the pandemic on individuals, communities and businesses.

"Our goal was to foster and develop collaborations between global universities to tackle emerging issues. By sharing global experiences and best practice, we aimed to identify potential research and development (R&D) collaborations with the potential to make a real difference," Azarmi said.

Among other items, the workshop participants discussed how companies and their employees would cope with distributed workforces going forward. Azarmi said it still wasn't clear what long-term distributed working would mean for the dynamics of organizations, including areas such as staff training and innovation.

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The pandemic has also led to a large number of organizations accelerating their digital transformations by using collaboration tools such as video conferencing and messaging platforms. Remote work is impacting how and where employees will work going forward.

"We can expect to see a significant increase in focus on workplace design in the next few years as organizations, including our own, try to find their most effective work styles," Azarmi said. "As the world adjusts to a new normal, there are opportunities for innovation to ease that transition. Following the success of our first workshop, we’re aiming to host more collaborative sessions in the coming months and continue to play our part in identifying those opportunities, using the power of global R&D to help the world bounce back from Covid-19."