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Case study

UBM: driving adoption of collaboration

In 2015, global events and publishing group UBM moved its UK Head Office staff into a new building in London’s Blackfriars and a whole new world; seven stories of a dramatic glass and steel building, equipped with all the latest technology for collaborative working with minimised environmental impact.

This was more than an office move. It was a business transformation that would change almost every aspect of how UBM’s 400 staff worked.

In just one weekend, they’d swap their traditional office with insufficient meeting rooms, poorly equipped but always fully booked and a desk for everyone, for state-of-the-art agile working that gives them the freedom and autonomy to work where and how works best for them.

No personal desk, instead book a workspace from the touch panels in the lobbies.

And a whole array of meeting spaces packed with technology from round-the-table meeting rooms, more informal brainstorming and collaborative project room and multi-purpose break-out spaces.

Spaces are booked online according to the number of participants and type of meeting and lighting, climate control and audio visual equipment all power-up automatically ready for use.

Bringing such dramatic change to so many people was a major challenge. Instrui Founder and Director Pip Thomas was lead user adoption and training consultant on the project.

“Our brief was short and simple,” explains Thomas, “to make sure staff had the confidence to explore and engage with the technology in the meeting spaces, including the room booking system, the room control and interactive collaborative meeting technology with video conferencing and digital whiteboarding.”

The user adoption process kicked off three months prior to the move with discovery to identify users, in terms of age, job functions and responsibilities and level of experience with technology.

Armed with this insight, Pip’s team designed a programme encompassing technology familiarisation, in-depth training and hearts-and-minds activities such as a competition to win a state-of-the-art smartphone that would help generate a buzz about the new technology and collaborative culture.

UBM went from traditional office to state-of-the-art agile collaborative culture in one weekend.

The programme mirrored the non-hierarchical approach of the new culture and its emphasis on choice and autonomy in the structure of the programme. All courses were held in the new offices and optional to mix ages, levels of seniority and job function. Sessions were highly interactive with staff learning actively – by doing not listening.

The results were clear on the first day explains Pip: “We’d engaged with around 95% of staff before the move, and seen the interest and engagement growing so we weren’t surprised to see almost every space occupied and the technology being used on day one, with people really exploring the different types of spaces and experimenting with the technology – and all with only a minor uplift in IT support calls.

“UBM is an inspiring example of how to win the hearts and minds of your staff,” Pip adds, ” when you move to a 21st century collaborative and agile workplace, focused on efficiency and productivity and on the people that use it.”

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