Thai Red Cross is building an inclusive workplace with Office 365

 |   Thornthawat Thongnab

When the Thai Red Cross Society announced it had positions for people with disabilities, Jutarat Plaiseemuank, 33, saw it as a chance to be closer to her family and decrease her financial burden. She decided to leave her job and the glamor of Bangkok, returning to her hometown in Ratchaburi province.

Still, the working environment in her Red Cross chapter posed its own challenges. In Jutarat’s opinion, the general workflow and data management were “outdated” and “conservative”. She wished she could do more to help in her mission.

Microsoft, in collaboration with Thai Bankers’ Association and CSR Club, strives to enhance the working performance and empower every person with disabilities hired in the 76 Red Cross provincial chapters and 240 Red Cross district branches across Thailand.

An intensive modern workplace training was organized to guide 100 selected Red Cross workers with special needs on the best way to utilize Office 365, a cloud-based productivity and collaboration offering that Microsoft donated, together with over 500 computers.

“Many of our workers with special needs are skillful,” said Tipvipa Suwanrath, the Acting Deputy Director and Advisor of Red Cross Chapters Administration Bureau. “Before the Bankers’ Association became our sponsor for hiring people with disabilities, there were very few staff stationed in each branch.”

So far, 848 people with disabilities have joined Red Cross’ team, and Tipvipa is pleased that they have the opportunity to boost their productivity by learning skills on the new technology they received.

“If we have (the technology) but cannot use it efficiently because we don’t know how to, it will be such a waste of these great products.”

The two-day training program not only introduces the basic use of fundamental applications, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but also guides users on how to foster cloud-based team collaboration through online platforms like Outlook, Skype, Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint.

“This is the first time that we presented our staff with so many great applications. It will immensely benefit their work for Red Cross across the country,” said Pranai Suwanrath, the bureau director.

The aim is to improve the filing system and communication flows between all Red Cross’ chapters and branches in Thailand.

“Liaison is quite a big issue for us,” said Chavalit Polsrithong, the bureau’s head of general administration. “Each month, we have to handle thousands of paper documents, for instance for services delivery.”

“It takes time for these hard-copied files to be delivered and collected in the main archive, and sometimes they can be delayed for months,” he said.

Thanks to online platforms and storage, the staff will now be able to digitally hand over administrative documents, including any essential information regarding their ongoing humanitarian projects, to each other instantaneously, regardless of distance.

The vast amount of files will also be securely and systematically stored in one place, and can be pulled out conveniently for reviews and inspections to ensure better transparency within the organization.

Following this successful pilot training, Chavalit hopes that Red Cross “will be able to do more” and that all 848 workers with disabilities will be able to acquire the same skills taught to those who attended the training.