As head of customer insights & futures in the firm’s global services innovation team, Millard knows about the journey BT has taken and where it is now in terms of communication and collaboration amongst employees.
“In BT the journey started back in the 1990s when we were one of the first companies in Europe to introduce home working.”
This was not about just giving people a laptop and internet connection and telling them they could work anywhere however. Instead, Millard says that BT focused on a number of key areas to promote better work practices:
- Categorising jobs into appropriate workstyles
- Giving staff a choice about their work location
- Measuring productivity on output and not hours in the office
- Providing access to technology such as audio conferencing
In BT’s Southeast Asian office located in Singapore, collaboration allows more than 600 employees to share 400 desk spaces, she said.
“All employees are equipped with technology and connectivity that enables them to work anywhere, inside and out of the office.”
With this approach, she added, the firm saw increased productivity and a step change in the collaboration between teams which resulted in better customer service.
“Collaboration is also much easier with more than 30 meeting rooms, nine video conferencing suites, and facilities such as a centralised booking system.”
These initiatives mean that BT can recruit and retain anyone regardless of location, she said. Additionally, both travel time and carbon footprint are reduced while agility is increased.
Finally, Millard said that the firm has extended these collaboration capabilities to its clients as well.
“Management of Eu Yan Sang, a traditional Chinese healthcare retailer, had been frustrated by the time wasted connecting to meetings and were concerned about the potential for misunderstanding across their worldwide offices.
“With BT’s support, not only were Eu Yan Sang employees able to connect and collaborate more closely, but the greater flexibility also led to a positive impact on productivity.”
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“Typically, the companies that have most successfully integrated collaboration into their businesses are those that are in the collaboration business,” said Nicola Millard of BT Global Services.