Google Cloud Results
Moved 400 apprenticeship program training sessions to Google Meet during lockdown
• Equips office and frontline employees with essential digital skills to grow
• Enables employees to mix office and remote working seamlessly
• Increases productivity by eliminating travel time to meetings and training
• Enables the business to attract a more diverse workforce
• Broadens availability of training to apprentices and existing employees
When COVID-19 struck, Travis Perkins PLC, a leading supplier to the UK building industry, faced one of the biggest challenges in its 200-year history. Throughout the decades, the business grew steadily based on close customer relationships nurtured through a network of hundreds of offices and branches. When the first UK lockdown was enforced in March 2020, the company was forced to rethink how employees would work day to day to maintain these important relationships.
Fortunately, Travis Perkins PLC had already deployed Google Workspace to most of its employees in 2013 during an earlier digital transformation project aimed at improving collaboration and communication. This meant that the majority were able to switch quickly to remote working. Matt Greaves, Director, Office of the CIO at Travis Perkins PLC quickly realized that this wasn’t a temporary disruption. “It soon became apparent that the pandemic marked a permanent switch to a hybrid working environment where you could choose when to work from home and when to come into the office,” he says.
Greaves also knew that he already had the ideal platform to support this workplace transformation. “Google Workspace is perfect for hybrid working. It’s highly intuitive and built from the ground up to support remote digital collaboration,” he says.
To help Travis Perkins PLC with technology adoption and training, the company sought the expertise of a Google Workspace partner. Following a rigorous selection process, Google Cloud specialist partner, CTS, was brought in to support Travis Perkins PLC’s transformation journey. This included changing enablement and optimization of Google Workspace applications across the organization.
Together, the companies will continue to identify new opportunities for improvement and innovation. “We selected CTS as our new partner because they understand organizations of our scale and are a good fit for our culture,” says Greaves.
Employees embrace Google Workspace
“Compared with other collaboration tools, Google Workspace is so much more intuitive. Once you’ve shown the basics to a new starter they can begin exploring and find their way around really quickly.” - Gemma McClure, Google Adoption Lead, Travis Perkins PLC
Thanks to training provided by CTS and the help of the Google Workspace account team, Travis Perkins PLC employees have embraced Google Workspace and a shift to a hybrid working environment with enthusiasm.
Gemma McClure, Google Adoption Lead at Travis Perkins PLC, emphasizes how easy it is for people to get started. “Compared with other collaboration tools, Google Workspace is so much more intuitive. Once you’ve shown the basics to a new hire they can begin exploring and finding their way around really quickly.”
She also calls out some of the features that won over end-users. “Many of our employees rely on spreadsheets," says McClure. "When you show them that Google Sheets supports macros and conditional formatting, or how the Explore feature enables them to interrogate data in really intuitive ways they’re really excited about using it to collaborate and share information with their colleagues.”
While Travis Perkins PLC has standardized on the use of Google Sheets, it supports employees who want to use alternative spreadsheet software. “The inherent interoperability of Google Workspace means that we don’t have to dictate a one-size-fits-all approach,” says McClure. But most employees have chosen to move to Google Sheets for the ease of collaborating and sharing information with their colleagues.
Google Workspace also takes full advantage of Search, making it quicker and simpler for employees to find folders, files, and contacts. “From files and documents to your contact list, you can always find what you're looking for when you need it," says Chris Griffin, Google Lead at Travis Perkins PLC. "And you can solve problems without resorting to the helpdesk. It’s great to give people that degree of autonomy.”
The adoption numbers speak for themselves. When the first UK lockdown began in March 2020, the volume of Google Meet video conferences at Travis Perkins PLC shot up by 500% from 300 to 1,500 per day. By the start of 2021 and with the UK still in lockdown, this daily figure had risen to 3,000 per day. The number of regular Google Meet users at Travis Perkins PLC went from less than 2,000 to nearly 8,000 in the same period.
This shift towards digital collaboration was also reflected in the use of Google Chat. From a few thousand messages a day, use surged to 20 million messages in just a few months. For most employees, the move away from phone conversations and voicemails has been liberating. “I used to sit down at the end of a busy day with 20 missed calls and 15 voicemail messages,” says Andy Rayner, Head of Apprenticeships at Travis Perkins PLC. "Now I’m surprised if I get one voicemail.”
Travis Perkins PLC is redesigning many of its offices to reflect the permanent shift to hybrid working. At its Northampton head office, desks and meeting rooms have been reconfigured so that the majority of employees can plug in their laptop and work from anywhere in the building.
Many meeting spaces are also being outfitted with Google Meet hardware including high-resolution screens, tablets, and microphone systems to ensure high quality meetings that support greater collaboration between remote employees, and teams in different locations.
Griffin also reiterates the widespread appeal of Google Workspace in a business where many employees work on the frontline in branches and warehouses. “After visiting some of our sites and branches, it was clear to see how Google Workspace has helped our colleague network and our customers.”
In addition to Gmail and Google Docs, these frontline staff, such as branch managers, also use Google Sheets to present daily performance dashboards, which can also be viewed on kiosk style desktops onsite. “There’s one branch where they wrote their own custom scripts to show sales, stock takes and other important performance data. Google Sheets is intuitive enough to support these customizations.”
These locations are also seeing heavy use of Google Currents as a way for people to find answers to client queries and technical issues. Griffin says, “Currents fits that niche between Chat, Gmail and social media. It’s a really great space where our frontline team can share knowledge.”
Training moves online with Google Meet
“We used to have a group of people sitting in a room for eight hours of training. Now we hold more frequent sessions that last an hour or less. These shorter meetings are far more productive, and people can put what they’ve learned into practice immediately.” - Andy Rayner, Head of Apprenticeships, Travis Perkins PLC
When it comes to training, Google Workspace has had a positive impact on the Travis Perkins PLC apprenticeship program, which has about 800 participants. When the first UK lockdown was announced, Rayner faced the prospect of suspending the program and losing out on government funding.
However, he saw the potential to move training online and got in touch with the Google Workspace account team who helped him start delivering these apprenticeship sessions using Google Meet. In addition to rescuing the training program, this has also improved the employee learning experience. “We used to have a group of young people sitting in a room for eight hours of training. Now we hold more frequent sessions that last an hour or less. These shorter meetings are far more productive, and people can put what they’ve learned into practice immediately,” says Rayner.
Rayner expects Google Meet to remain the principal platform for apprentice and wider company training. “There will still be times when we get together in a room if we think it adds value. But we will take a blended approach where about 75% of our training will remain online. We certainly won’t go back to endless travel and the same level of office meetings. My team won’t let me!”
What works best for employees is best for the business
A more progressive approach to remote working and training also broadens the appeal of the business to new employees. This includes staff who need to balance work and family responsibilities, and people who live further from a Travis Perkins PLC office. “We're seeing a more diverse group of apprentices join the program,” says Rayner. "They also bring with them existing digital skills which are helping to change the workspace culture while supporting the long-term success of the business.”
Griffin himself says that Google Workspace played a role in his decision to join the company. “My commute to work is about 90 minutes, so the opportunity to work from home and come in on the days when I’m needed was really appealing.”
Becoming a truly digital business
“Google Workspace has enabled our colleagues to continue to collaborate and deliver in a challenging business environment, from the home office to the front line. The apps are intuitive and simple to use and provide the foundations for our ongoing digital evolution” - Matt Greaves, Director, Office of the CIO, Travis Perkins PLC
Greaves is equally confident about long-term prospects for the business as more of its customer interactions move online and its customer base expands to include more digital natives.
“Google Workspace has enabled our colleagues to continue to collaborate and deliver in a challenging business environment, from the home office to the front line. The apps are intuitive and simple to use and provide the foundations for our ongoing digital evolution”
*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.