Google Workspace Results
Drives ongoing digital transformation from within the organization
• Enables a seamless hiring and onboarding process for new employees
• Supports ongoing learning and development throughout the pandemic with Google Classroom
• Supports innovation with automation to free up teams from laborious day-to-day tasks with Google Apps Script
• Keeps employees motivated with company-wide town hall on Google Meet
NTUC Enterprise is the holding entity and single largest shareholder of the NTUC Enterprise group of social enterprises. NTUC Enterprise aims to create a greater social force to do good by harnessing the capabilities of its social enterprises to meet pressing social needs in areas like health and eldercare, childcare, daily essentials, cooked food and financial services.
Serving over 2 million customers, NTUC Enterprise wants to enable and empower all in Singapore to live better and more meaningful lives. “We make sure that people have affordable options when it comes to their day-to-day needs by setting benchmark prices across the country,” explains Bryan Tan, Head of End User Services and Automation at NTUC Enterprise.
To keep customers engaged in the work they do and improve efficiency within the group, the organization needs to evolve their internal and external processes. “We believe in innovating with purpose. Our core purpose is to moderate the cost of living, but if we don’t innovate alongside technology, we can very easily fall behind as people may not find our services to be as accessible,” explains Tan. Google Workspace helps support our goals to innovate as we are always exploring new ways to do things better.”
In 2019, the group embarked on their digital transformation journey with Google Workspace, starting with three of its organizations, namely NTUC FairPrice, which is their grocery retail business, NTUC Health, which includes a suite of quality and affordable healthcare and support for the elderly, and NTUC First Campus, which provides education for children up to the age of 10 years. “We were lucky to have started using Google Workspace in 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck,” says Tan. “This made coping with the pandemic so much easier because we were already equipped with the necessary tools for remote work.”
Navigating the pandemic with access to secure, remote working platforms
“We believe in innovating with purpose. Our core purpose is to moderate the cost of living, but if we don’t innovate alongside technology, we can very easily fall behind as people may not find our services to be as accessible. Google Workspace helps support our goals to innovate as we are always exploring new ways to do things better.” – Bryan Tan, Head of End User Services and Automation, NTUC Enterprise
When the pandemic made remote work compulsory, employees at NTUC Enterprise could continue with their daily tasks without much interruption. “Since we were already on the same Google Workspace platform, it was easy for us to communicate on Google Chat, and share files with one another easily on Google Drive,” says Miguel Ho, Head of Process Automation at NTUC Enterprise.
The team also saw seamless communication across the different organizations within the group as every employee was equipped with the tools they needed to collaborate. “We were able to make use of Chat to look for colleagues easily because Chat is like instant messaging, where it’s quite informal so we can just drop someone a message and wait for them to reply. It really helped break down boundaries,” says Tan, adding that people were much more open to support one another as it felt less imposing than communicating via email.
Over the past two years, NTUC Enterprise saw many new employees join the organization. “Changing jobs in the midst of a pandemic would have been quite a unique, perhaps even scary experience for some,” says Tan. However, with Google Meet, the group was able to interview and employ many new additions to the team. “The entire process was seamless, from the first interview to their first day. In fact, many new hires only came into the office for the first time when they needed to pick up their corporate laptops,” he adds.
Ongoing learning and development within the company
“Since Google Data Studio is so easy to use, we decided to train employees across the organization so that they can use it to meet their specific business needs. It was a huge success because we started seeing different use cases as people started using the platform, and we were able to optimize our data analytics efforts.” – Miguel Ho, Head of Process Automation, NTUC Enterprise
A key feature that NTUC Enterprise leveraged during the pandemic was Google Classroom, where they were able to provide ongoing training for employees across different subjects. Moving away from the mindset that anything related to technology should be managed by the IT team, Tan and his team launched a citizen developer program, whereby employees from every department are trained to use dashboards on (Google Data Studio, is now known as Looker Studio).
“Since Google Data Studio is so easy to use, we decided to train employees across the organization so that they can use it to meet their specific business needs,” says Ho. “It was a huge success because we started seeing different use cases as people started using the platform, and we were able to optimize our data analytics efforts.”
Having seen the amount of interest pour in, Ho also started a basic coding class for employees so that they could build their own scripts on Google Apps Script, and was amazed at the learning culture embedded within the organization. “There was a lot of interest. I was supposed to run the course for just one month, but ended up doing it for the entire year because it was oversubscribed,” he shares.
Supporting a safe work environment with Google Workspace
“Google Workspace has been a game changer in many ways, and with the strong learning culture here at NTUC Enterprise, I’m excited to see how our organization can continue to benefit from the features and products that Google offers.” – Bryan Tan, Head of End User Services and Automation, NTUC Enterprise
At the height of the pandemic, temperature taking at every entrance point was compulsory. To keep track of the data and apply best practices on safety management, Ho and his team developed a code using Google Apps Script that was linked to Forms and Sheets, so that every time a temperature within an unsafe range was recorded, the relevant teams in charge would be alerted so that the appropriate notifications could be sent to the safety management office. “Using Google Data Studio, we were able to also build a safety dashboard with all of this information, which was a far cry from the pen and paper option that would have otherwise been adopted by default,” says Ho.
Apart from temperature taking, the dashboard was also used to monitor employee health and safety, by ensuring adherence to the necessary COVID-19 precautions. “We had safety management officers on the ground at our offices, checking to make sure that employees had their masks on correctly,” Ho says. If an employee was spotted wearing their masks incorrectly, the safety management officer would indicate it on a form, which linked back to the larger database. Based on the information collated on Sheets, the safety management office could see where most non-compliant cases were, their key causes, and even develop infographics to better educate employees.
Building a secure, connected ecosystem
Ho says that one of the top features of Apps Script is the ability to connect different features together. “One of our favorite things to do is to create automatic email notifications, with logic applied to it. So we combine Chat, Docs, Forms, Sheets, and Google Data Studio to create a dashboard for a quick overview, and to support our daily operations.”
The ability for Google Apps Script to call APIs from different websites has been particularly helpful. One example is when the finance team needs to monitor foreign exchange rates. Instead of having to go on different websites and generate manual reports by copying and pasting information onto a spreadsheet, they can simply call the right APIs and have them automatically laid out on Sheets, saving time and energy.
Additional support during the pandemic
Typically, the organization would hold town hall meetings regularly. However, at the height of the pandemic, gathering large amounts of people was not possible. Furthermore, COVID-19 happened right in the middle of the Chinese New Year celebration, a major festival where teams would traditionally celebrate the success and hard work of their employees.
“Thanks to Google Cloud and the free upgrade they gave us by removing the 50-people restriction on Meet, we were able to bring this event online, gathering hundreds of people together as we broadcasted our message live. This was very impactful and meaningful for us and our employees,” says Tan.
Having created a new set of norms over the past three years, Tan says the organization has embraced the concept of hybrid work arrangements. “Hybrid work is definitely here to stay, and I believe that this workplace flexibility is one way for us to improve staff retention.” Of course, as face-to-face meetings have their own benefits, employees will be expected to come into the office on specific days. “Google Workspace has been a game changer in many ways, and with the strong learning culture here at NTUC Enterprise, I’m excited to see how our organization can continue to benefit from the features and products that Google offers,” says Tan.
*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.