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SFHA Innovation & Future Thinking Programme

Community Innovators

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SFHA’s Innovation and Future Thinking programme brings our members and other stakeholders together to collaboratively develop new ideas and solutions for the future.  Our purpose is a collective ambition to broaden and strengthen the sector’s contribution to social justice and inclusive growth. 

The programme aims to be: 

  • Inspirational – incorporating international and ‘out of sector’ inputs to promote radical thinking and fresh approaches 

  • Customer focused – using design-led approaches which put people at the centre 

  • Evidence-led – building ideas and solutions based on robust research and insight 

  • Sustainable – developing capacity for the housing sector to continue to innovate on an on-going basis. 

We have three key streams of work within the programme:   

Home of the Future 

Innovation in design, construction and maintenance will deliver improved quality and services andimportantly maintain affordable rents. The home of the future will be designed around the individual understanding the needs and desires and implement into development and property services. 

Our Aim: To influence the housing sector to future proof homes by working with the construction sector and its customers, hence reducing isolation, boosting  connectivity, centralising adaptations,ensuring “a place for everyone” and providing great homes for all.  

Service Transformation 

Digital technology and culture improvement will aid how housing associations are transforming andevolving.  Encouraging staff development to construct a more agile and dynamic team, be more responsive to customers' needs can strengthen user experience.  Digital change will transform the landscape of communication, operations and data. 

Our Aim: To demonstrate that understanding how customers and users experience services is key too creating and delivering best practice through involving residents in the service design and decision-making process.   Support and motivate organisations transforming services to digital approaches to ensure value, efficiency and effectiveness.  

Tackling Poverty and Demonstrating Impact 

Housing associations strive to support the lives of, and where needed build resilience in, residents and the communities that they serve.  We, as a sector, can join forces to provide the protection, careand opportunity to evade the hardship faced by many.  

Our Aim:  To showcase and provide tools and resources to measure the social housing sectorsimpact and use this to influence future plans and business strategies, and to secure new or continued funding and investment. . Work with the sector to improve services to enable increasedphysical, mental and financial wellbeing in communities 


Innovation & Future Thinking Programme Icon Innovation & Future Thinking Programme

Resiliently redesigning

Part of our transformation in 2020 series of articles, showcasing a range of good practice and new ways of working from our members, partners and SFHA.   

Posted IN

tags : Change / Inspire / Innovation / Innovation and future thinking

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Service delivery and ways of working are changing, in every sector, all over the world. This year proved to be a catalyst for businesses and organisations to revaluate their strategies and processes and consider the future of their service delivery.  

The Scottish housing sector proved its resilience and adaptability when the world went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Housing is a basic necessity, and Scotland’s housing associations understood the importance of continuing to provide support and services for their customers and tenants while, at the same time, ensuring the health and wellbeing of their staff. 

Focusing on our members, the following examples demonstrate how they transformed services, from tenancy sign-ups and repairs to welfare services.  


Kingdom Housing Association used technology to help tenants fix routine repairs without a member of staff being there in person. This use of augmented reality could be a gamechanger for the future of maintenance services. Read more about the service here.     

Allocations, viewings and sign-ups

Ardenglen Housing Association created a YouTube video which explained its tenancy agreement, including terms and conditions, for prospective tenants to view before signing. Watch the video on YouTube

Virtual viewings were introduced by Sanctuary Housing for potential tenants as well as a new sign-up process, in line with guidance published by the Scottish Government. Click to find out more about the viewing process and sign up process

Link Housing Association developed a simple sign-up process that can be used while social distancing rules are in place to ensure the safety of both tenants and staff. Allocations and viewing Covid-19 Procedure 

Customer support and engagement

Remote welfare support was provided by Wheatley Group advisersThey helped customers with online appeals, set up conference calls with the DWP, provided translation for Polish customers and used FaceTime to help customers make a Universal Credit claim online. Additional information can be found in this article.  

Cairn Housing increased the range of channels that customers could use to contact its Cairn Connect customer service team. This included seamless user interfaces for conversational text messaging, social media enquiries, web assistants and enhanced connectivity to existing webchat and self-service systems. Read more here.  

Increasing its use of technology has enabled Elderpark Housing Association to understand its tenants’ views. A survey software application has provided it with a range of information that helps it to gain a greater understanding of customer needs. Read more here

Empowering culture change

In order to create a culture of continuous improvement, Trust Housing Association established an internal team, with staff from across the organisation, in order to build on their skills and provide the opportunity for collaboration and learning in areas such as service design, problem solving and digital technology. 

Innovation fun fact 

Did you know, Google has the 80:20 rule which means staff must work 80% of the time on the core work they have been employed to do but can spend 20% of their time working on other internal projects that they would not normally be involved in? This increases their experience while creating shared and novel thinking across this organisation. 

Email: innovation@sfha.co.uk 

Twitter: @InnovationSfha 

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