Employees can provide instant feedback with live editing in Google Docs
• Opens up communication with instant messaging and video conferencing with Google Meet
• Speeds up collaboration with live editing in Google Docs and Google Sheets
• Reduces IT costs with competitive pricing and simplified licence management
By offering a premium gym experience along with a strong focus on customer service, Virgin Active has become a market leader in Italy’s high-end leisure industry. With 35 clubs in the country, Virgin Active strives to add value for its 160,000 members by constantly looking to improve itself. “As well as the shiny, new equipment and the great locations, we’re always looking at ways to innovate our product offerings,” says Enrico Tizzano, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Active. In late 2017, as the company’s existing email and productivity platform reached the end of its contract, Enrico saw an opportunity to drive innovation within the company’s internal processes. To do that, he turned to Google for a solution—Google Workspace.
“One of the challenges we have is around communication and collaboration between our head office and the clubs around the country,” says Enrico. “I saw Google Workspace as an opportunity to remove some of the barriers we had in the past around communication and bring everyone closer together.”
Streamlining communication, sparking collaboration
“One of the challenges we have is around communication and collaboration between our head office and the clubs around the country. I saw Google Workspace as an opportunity to remove some of the barriers we had in the past around communication and bring everyone closer together.” - Enrico Tizzano, Chief Technology Officer, Virgin Active Italy
A Virgin Active member should enjoy the same high-quality experience whichever club they go to, whether in Rome, Milan, or Sicily. For the company’s 1,800 employees, it is vital that they work closely together to maintain its high standards. With the company’s previous email and productivity platform, people used to rely on email more than anything else to collaborate. “Communication was very top down,” says Enrico. “As an example, the head office would send out a PDF in email, and if somebody in one of our clubs had some feedback, they’d have to go to their manager, who would send it up to their manager, and so on. There were three or four layers you had to get through to communicate ideas or opinions.”
Although Virgin Active’s existing productivity solution had several collaborative tools, different people were licensed for different products. So creating new projects was an administrative headache and it would also exclude staff from being able to utilize some of the tools. The easiest way to collaborate without getting IT to buy more licenses was simply to send an email. With several instances of the same document littering long email chains, it was easy to lose track of which was the most up-to-date version. Enrico wanted a new platform that could streamline communication and bring the company closer together.
Teaming up with Google Premier Partner Innext, Virgin Active began migrating to Google Workspace at the end of 2017. “Innext really took the time to understand our business and what our motivation for moving to Google Workspace was,” says Enrico. “They had people here on site during the migration—it wasn’t a remote engagement.” The simplicity of Google Workspace has made the migration easier for Virgin Active. With everything accessible from the browser, employees don’t have to waste time downloading and updating client software for their particular devices. The clean design and interface in Google Workspace means that Virgin Active employees have been exploring the available tools without any prompting, whether on desktop or mobile devices.
“If you send a Google Sheet out to 35 clubs asking them to update it, you can see those updates coming in live. You can react very quickly if something's not quite right or something's unclear, and that can get fed back immediately.” - Enrico Tizzano, Chief Technology Officer, Virgin Active Italy
The ease of use and powerful search facilities in Gmail proved instantly popular with employees. With Google Drive, workers could securely share files in a single place and always be sure that it was the right version. Google Meet helped bridge the communication gaps with instant messaging and high-quality, intuitive video conferencing. Live editing in Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides helped Virgin Active to eliminate communication and feedback barriers between different teams.
“If you send a Google Sheet out to 35 clubs asking them to update it, you can see those updates coming in live,” says Enrico. “You can interact very quickly. If something's not quite right or something's unclear, they can feed that back immediately.”
Making bonds that last with Google Workspace
With the help of Innext and Google Workspace, Virgin Active now has a productivity platform that can fully drive communication and collaboration. Employees don’t have to worry about permissions or licences before they use a product, while features like live editing help make the business much more efficient. Virgin Active’s IT department has made significant direct savings thanks to Google’s competitive licensing costs, but also indirect savings. With every Google Workspace product available from the outset to account holders, the IT team no longer has to actively manage user licenses, update them when people get promoted, or buy new ones for new projects.
“It’s certainly saved us money but that’s only part of the story. I tell people that Google Google Workspace is an opportunity to genuinely transform the way your business deals with communication and collaboration.” - Enrico Tizzano, Chief Technology Officer, Virgin Active Italy
With the migration complete in January 2018, Virgin Active now plans on taking the platform even further, exploring Google Sites as a possible replacement the company’s existing intranet. In addition, Enrico is also looking at the opportunities afforded by Google Cloud Platform data analytics and machine learning tools, which will help the company understand its members’ needs even better than before. Meanwhile, the sheer simplicity and ease of use of Google Workspace has helped bring Virgin Active’s workforce closer than ever before.
“It’s certainly saved us money but that’s only part of the story,” he says. “I tell people that Google Workspace is an opportunity to genuinely transform the way your business deals with communication and collaboration.”
*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.