As Virgin Atlantic restarts operations following the industry-wide airline shut-down attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fb’s Office is offering employees with the sources required as they work to get extra passengers again within the skies.
When Virgin Atlantic deployed the social community to attach its workforce 4 years in the past, the transfer was a right away hit with staff, most of whom are in frontline roles resembling its cabin crew and pilot groups. Whereas the main target was on group constructing and communications, the applying has increasinglybecome an data portal for the airline’s 6,000 staff, delivering entry to sources resembling worker studying and improvement data.
The sources supplied embrace a listing of obligatory coaching programs for plane employees and thought management articles in a purpose-built space inside Office together with nthe just lately launched Shift Cowl function frontline employees use to coordinate shift swaps. There are additionally plans emigrate employees rostering data from Virgin Atlantic’s intranet to Office.
“We’re taking a look at Office transferring from a connectivity platform to a productiveness instrument,” stated Megan Buck, channels and social supervisor at Virgin Atlantic. “When it first got here in, it was wonderful for connecting individuals throughout the enterprise, from all over the world, and creating that two-way dialog.
“The technique that we see for Office going ahead might be an enabling instrument to let individuals do their jobs higher.”
Adjustments in how Virgin Atlantic makes use of Office replicate a wider evolution amongst enterprise social community purposes, stated Raul Castanon, a senior analysis analyst at S&P International Market Intelligence’s 451 Analysis. That development has seen numerous enterprise social instruments, from Slack to Microsoft’s Groups and Viva, widen their scope and transfer from a predominantly top-down communication medium to turn out to be “complete digital worker expertise platforms” that present entry to quite a lot of firm sources and purposes.
“The expertise of Virgin Atlantic displays a extra mature deployment,” Castanon stated.
A spike in use through the pandemic
As with different airways, Virgin Atlantic’s enterprise operations have been exhausting hit by journey restrictions through the pandemic, with as a lot 85% of its workforce furloughed and a wave of redundancies as flights have been grounded. Virgin Atlantic did what different corporations all over the world have been pressured to do in 2020 — closed places of work, despatched staff residence, stored them up to date with vital data, and labored to maintain enterprise transferring ahead.
Throughout the fast-changing early phases of the disaster, there was a surge in demand for firm updates, which translated to a 96% weekly lively consumer fee on Office among the many 6,000 staff. (The weekly lively consumer fee earlier than the pandmic was 76%.) As issues across the pandemic have subsided, utilization has dropped again to the sooner ranges, despite the fact that nearly half of staff stay on full-time or “flexi” furlough.
“We had this speculation that uncertainty drives Office utilization,” stated Buck. “When there’s an enormous authorities announcement or normal uncertainty out there, individuals go to Office to see what the management group is saying, or what data the comms group [is] sharing, or cabin crew teams, for instance.
“Our utilization charges have been completely by means of the roof, particularly on the [height] the pandemic,” she stated.
Castanon described the surge in use at Virgin Atlantic as “excessive, though not fully shocking once we think about the unprecedented surge in demand skilled throughout all digital channels – together with video collaboration and chat purposes – through the COVID-19 lockdown.
“Enterprise social community software resembling Office emerged as a vital component for enterprise continuity through the COVID-19 pandemic,” he stated.
One key purpose for the spike was entry to a microsite created on Office’s Information Library. This gave staff a “one-stop-shop” for updates associated to the pandemic, furlough selections, and suggestions learn how to hold protected. All staff have been in a position to entry FAQs as wanted, decreasing the pressure on the skeleton group nonetheless working.
“We did our greatest to make individuals really feel like they have been totally knowledgeable and engaged with what was happening throughout the enterprise, and with out being too intrusive,” stated Buck. “It is a mild steadiness of creating individuals relaxed, knowledgeable, engaged with out being too overbearing. Sending fixed electronic mail updates is a little bit of a barrage for individuals who is probably not checking in with their emails.”
Extra just lately there’s been details about the return to the workplace for furloughed employees. “We have decreased from two places of work to at least one, so there’s tons of people that have by no means labored in our most important head workplace…. It’s about giving them steerage and making them really feel a bit extra at-ease concerning the return to work,” stated Buck.
Video additionally performed an necessary function in connecting staff. Virgin CEO Shai Weiss did weekly broadcasts that summarized occasions throughout the corporate as enterprise unit leaders supplied up their very own movies. As well as, in-person “group huddles” that have been frequent pre-Covid grew to become on-line city halls or Office Stay occasions, stated Buck.
“An enormous quantity of our leaders, and even individuals additional down the meals chain have adopted video as a core platform that they should be utilizing to replace their group,” she stated.
Office, whereas vital, stays only one a part of Virgin Atlantic’s communication efforts. Microsoft Groups can also be used, although typically for extra direct collaboration inside smaller teams, resembling prompt messaging and file internet hosting.
“Microsoft Groups is a extra collaborative instrument for the day-to-day check-ins with the group,” stated Buck.
“We have tried to not be too prescriptive about how the person consumer must entry each platforms,” she stated. “As a comms group, Office is the large broadcast platform; if we’re sending out huge messages or there is a huge announcement, Office will completely be the primary place we go to.”