Case Study
WHERE IC PROFESSIONALS COME TO TALK

ALL ABOARD: A JOURNEY TOWARDS NEW TECH

In order to better connect its people, London North Eastern Railway (LNER) embarked on a significant technology upgrade. At the heart of this was internal comms, with its Platform 365 campaign designed to get people embracing a new way of working.

WORDS: ISABEL OVERTON

 

9th June 2021

When outdated IT systems at LNER made collaboration and information sharing difficult, the train operator’s internal comms team ran a campaign to guide the company through a significant technology upgrade.

The improvement was seen as a necessity rather than a choice – and it was essential for LNER’s people to get on board. The IC team has a good relationship with the IT team, so was brought in swiftly after decisions around the new technology had been made.

The main changes were the introduction of the Office 365 suite (as it was then known; it has subsequently rebranded as Microsoft 365) and the replacement of old company devices. This included new mobile phones, company laptops and computers.

Kayley Marchant, senior internal communications manager, says: “The ask from IT was very practical and logistical – to let people know it was coming and how to return old equipment and collect replacements. But we noticed that there was a real opportunity to sell the upgrade to people and excite them around the possibilities, rather than just give it to them.

“I’d worked on a system upgrade similar to the one LNER was undertaking at a previous company, so I knew it was important to first do some testing with our audience before we put any plans to paper.  

“As such, we ran a few focus groups with frontline colleagues to find out how they currently used technology at work and what they thought of it.”


Reinforce the benefits

In executing the campaign, the team followed the principles of the ADKAR change model. “ADKAR stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement,” says Kayley. “Step by step, we went through the principles of each to deliver our campaign effectively.”

Wanting to get some momentum behind them, the team created an internal brand for the campaign called Platform 365 – a nod to the move to Office 365 – and a recognisable logo.

Champions were recruited across all levels and given technology to test. As advocates of Platform 365, the champions engaged with people through Yammer about the benefits of the tech and practicalities around it, and set up stands at various sites to show how it worked.

Animations highlighted how the upgrade could change people’s working lives for the better. By demonstrating the ways in which tech could make project work or accessing documents easier, the team was able to show colleagues practical examples that they could relate to and break down any notions that the new tech would be complicated to use.

 


The IC team also worked with L&D and IT to host drop-in and training sessions. “Common questions we heard were around why the change was needed and what the benefits would be for employees, as well as lots of operational questions around how things worked,” says Kayley.

“My advice to other ICers would be to focus hard on selling the benefits, and to reiterate why the changes you’re making are right for the organisation.

“There may be a reluctance to try something new and give it a go, so you should also prepare training in advance and really consider carefully the type and volume of ‘how to’ guides you’ll need – both physical and digital versions.

“We created cool mobile videos of apps so people could see it being used, and we also took new software around to give colleagues the chance to have a play with it and ask questions before they got it.”  

During the rollout, the team shared first-hand accounts from people who had embraced the upgrade and found their working lives were made easier from it.


Expertise and learning resources

The IC team knew colleagues had a wide range of learning needs and preferences when it came to receiving comms, so they were sure to cater to this. Language was kept simple across the board, and there were long and short versions of animations to ensure that even the busiest colleagues didn’t miss out.  

The team was also assigned a dedicated Microsoft colleague to work with on implementing the package.

“Our dedicated adviser was really supportive of the comms we were doing and our rollout campaign, and they were happy to answer any questions we had,” says Kayley. “They’ve done it hundreds of times before, so really listen to what advice they give you and what they tell you has worked well for others.

“Microsoft also has lots of online resources that it updates regularly to help familiarise colleagues with the package.”

 

“Surprisingly, all 40 colleagues at Edinburgh Travel Centre – including those approaching retirement – embraced their phones and the new technology. They began to read more emails, often on their commute to work, and they wanted to know what all the apps were, and what they could do. There was a buzz in the air.”
Andrew Gaskill, travel consultant and Platform 365 champion, LNER

 

Feedback was encouraged throughout the rollout, and IC had champions share with them what wasn’t landing or working with colleagues as intended so that they could review and improve.

Kayley says: “Towards the end of the IC rollout, we measured the usage of Office 365 in the back end of the system and 83 per cent of colleagues were actively using it every day.”

The timing of the technology upgrade was in LNER’s favour, as it took place shortly before people were forced into working remotely as a result of Covid-19.

“We were so grateful we had completed our tech rollout ahead of the Covid-19 disruption, because it meant we had the foundations and resources our people needed to thrive remotely,” says Kayley.

“It also enabled the tech to do the talking when it came to proving its worth – we were suddenly much more separated in terms of location, yet more connected thanks to our resources.”

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