When leading European energy company innogy decided to migrate its email service to the cloud, the benefits were immediate – costs were cut in half, and millions of euros were saved in the process. But its journey to a new world of work was only just getting started.
After shifting all 5,000 of its mailboxes to Microsoft’s cloud services and its Exchange mail servers in 2012, users felt the positive impact almost immediately, thanks to increased capacity, an improved web client, and easy access from mobile devices.
The decision allowed the IT department to support company performance without increasing maintenance or requiring extra costs – and the boost to employee efficiency and mobility inspired innogy to explore further avenues for technological transformation.
Flexibility is the future
The potential of technology to create a flexible work environment was not lost on innogy, and the company embarked on a new ‘Great Place to Work’ initiative, inspired by Microsoft’s experience in implementing a flexible working style.
Regular consultations with Microsoft resulted in a framework which aimed to give employees greater flexibility in their decision making, customer care, and means of work – all of which would help foster employee creativity in problem-solving.
Implementation of this new initiative also resulted in a vital evolution at the company – a change in its culture – which has been shown to be one of the most important factors for a business when it comes to the effectiveness of implementing new technology.
Jana Švecová, a member of innogy’s Business Development Team states that “We have experts in specific fields, analysts, consultants, and we also work with external experts, which is is why flexibility is key for us.”
“We use agile methods, set up three-week sprints with regular meetings, and gradually adapt the system to the needs of the team and individual projects. Some are so large that they have their own sprints and smaller teams within the big one.”
As part of innogy’s culture shift, the company also adopted Kanban – a Japanese workflow which focuses on lean production and clearly outlining tasks in a visual format, allowing team members to identify potential bottlenecks, and areas for strengthened collaboration.
The unification of people and technology
Microsoft’s research has shown that for companies to receive maximum impact and effectiveness from adopting new technology, they must first ensure that they have adopted a digital culture – namely, an environment which fosters positive education, adoption and use of technology, so that its benefits can be felt across each area of the company.
Traditionally, Kanban visualisation sees teams create a workboard – typically on a whiteboard or using sticky notes – to help optimise the flow of work.
As part of its transformation, innogy adapted its interpretation of Kanban into a technological workflow. “We use Microsoft Teams to replicate paper Kanban methods,” Jana states. “In this way, everything we have created on the large physical board in our department, is also represented in a digital form.”
The benefit of having this workflow represented in digital forms is, of course, the ease of sharing them with other employees and managers – a particularly powerful asset in the new world of flexible working:
“Through SharePoint, everyone has constant access to all documents. We share the notes from meetings with OneNote – these are vital tools for us,” Jana continues. “We can also be in touch with external colleagues without them having to travel every day.”
This last point is another crucial factor for innogy’s success. Each month, employees carry out 19,000 two-way calls and 15,000 conference calls using Skype for Business, eradicating geographical barriers and providing unmatched flexibility.
The motivation caused by this level of flexibility is clear, especially for employees with parental commitments or the preference to work outside of regular company hours.
“I welcome the changes taking place thanks to modern technologies and the benefits of home office,” states František Zuzák, a manager at innogy Business Services. “In my opinion, the move toward flexibility is positive for employees and for employers. I, myself, work mainly at the office, but also sometimes from home, and other times at the airport.”
These benefits are positively reflected not only in overall employee motivation and satisfaction, but they also lead to reducing employee absence and unproductive downtime.
Coupled with a more efficient use of office space and reduced building and administration fees, innogy’s flexible working environment and overall culture has also resulted in financial savings.
As a follow-up to the implementation of Office 365, innogy and Microsoft continue to work together, promoting new work styles and the innovative use of technology.
For more information on how technology and culture can work together to create the most effective modern workplace, please visit our Digital Culture hub.