Collaboration: Using apps to digitally go the distance

By Helen Roberts, Principal Bid Manager, Telefónica UK

At O2, and especially within the Bid Contract and Commercial team, we embrace flexible working. Our team is spread across the UK and be found working in various offices or from our own homes. Although I love the freedom, sometimes you can feel like you’re the last to know what’s going on.  Our digital communications initiative was born to tackle this issue.

The objective

We wanted to overcome the distance by using digital tools to improve collaboration and build relationships within our team.

Our digital water cooler

For brief and informal communications, a mobile app made sense for a team on the move. Business employees often make use of consumer apps and we did the same with WhatsApp. After setting ground rules around content, we launched our group. It instantly created a “digital water cooler” where we share insight, discuss news, send birthday wishes and upload photos (especially when David Cameron visited the office!). We could do this thanks to the mobile devices and connectivity we have as part of our flexible working culture.

Finding our way with Sway

For detailed and more formal communications, like project updates for our monthly newsletter, we started to use the Sway app as part of Office 365.  After watching a few YouTube tutorials, the team soon knew how to build a newsletter quickly and easily which can be accessed on any device, wherever they are. We know it’s secure too as we changed settings so only O2 employees can view it. Sway connected people, who might not usually work together, to start projects and share insights. We also developed the purpose of our newsletter so we can celebrate success, get to know some of our new starters and give recognition to people in the team going above and beyond.

What’s next?

The feedback, just from adopting some new apps, has been extremely positive. It’s completely changed how our team works together and has helped us overcome the distance. But our digital communications initiative still has room for improvement. Next, we’ll look at how we can work more closely with other departments by making better use of OneDrive, Lync and Yammer.

For me, flexible working is great – and with the right apps it’s even better.

If you’re in the same office 9-5, why not find out more about flexible working? Or take a look at our website to see how apps could benefit your business.