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National Grid: Reimagining the Way We Work
The organization accelerated adoption of digital solutions to provide improved collaboration and user experiences.
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It’s a Wednesday morning and Shannon Soland, Vice President, Global Infrastructure and Operations at National Grid is working in his home office, where he is surrounded by thoughtfully curated and framed sports memorabilia, including a baseball bat used by St. Louis Cardinals great, Stan Musial.
This scenario is quite different from the one over 15 months ago when COVID-19 emerged and turned our lives upside down. The pandemic caused Soland and National Grid’s End User Experience team to quickly provide the company’s 15,000+ global office-based colleagues with the digital tools required to seamlessly switch to remote working.
A culture of planning and preparation
National Grid has years of experience in preparing for major events like storms and natural disasters, which helped them respond quickly and efficiently to pandemic conditions.
Soland has been managing large enterprise infrastructures for about 20 years and has spent the last two at National Grid. He observes: “What sets utilities apart from many other sectors are the attitudes and practices regarding planning and executing against adverse events.”
“One of our core objectives pre-pandemic was to digitally enable all of our colleagues,” he continues. “We had done extensive studies and exercises with our partner Atos to better understand our workforce, their digital preferences and their diverse digital needs.”
Working with Atos, National Grid’s End User Experience team developed user personas that looked beyond technology to examine the roles of its colleagues, their work locations and the tools required for each role.
“This analysis positioned us to accelerate deployment of our digital solutions,” Soland says, “but also acted as a springboard to new ways of working, with minimal friction and a larger adoption rate than originally planned.”
Building a culture of innovation and collaboration
The pandemic drove National Grid’s spirit of collaboration between business and digital teams. National Grid quickly adopted a “progress over perfection” approach, remaining laser-focused on business outcomes while delivering iterative enhancements to the digital tools and services offered to its colleagues.
To accelerate the digital adoption, business partners were engaged at every step of the journey and shared joint accountability. National Grid focused on creating a truly collaborative, agile and responsive digital workplace ecosystem supported by innovations such as virtual tech bars, peer-to-peer digital pop-ups and discussion forums, which drove adoption and participation to unprecedented levels.
Serve to care: Prioritizing digital experience and business outcomes
Before the pandemic, National Grid had embarked on a transformative journey that reinforced its commitment to customer satisfaction and employee experience. The End User Experience team focused on success metrics such as digital adoption rates, digital experience scores, customer satisfaction (CSAT) ratings and net promoter scores (NPS).
“The tools you provide are secondary to the goals of making it easier for our colleagues to do their jobs,” Soland says, “making their experiences more seamless and helping them to be more productive. We wanted our colleagues to experience a step-change from serve to care.”
National Grid made investments in technologies to enhance or measure digital experience. The quantitative and qualitative feedback enabled National Grid to roll out new support channels such as the virtual tech bars, self-service tools, and smart virtual advisors. It also helped the organization continue to refine existing support options for richer and more meaningful service experiences. This focus on data, design and experience continues to help National Grid reimagine and shape its modern digital workplace.
Soland adds: “Our End User Experience team reviewed every bit of feedback with our partner Atos. This relentless focus bore fruit, and today we have the best CSAT and NPS scores to date.”
The future is cleaner, sustainable and more digital
National Grid continues to focus on consistently improving colleagues’ experiences and optimizing the digital investments that support their commitment to delivering safer, cleaner and reliable energy to the customers and communities it serves.
“Our customers are already challenging us to provide cleaner, convenient and cost-effective energy choices, while our colleagues are anticipating a more digital workplace,” Soland says.
For National Grid, the immediate future includes welcoming its colleagues back to the office and making sure that their workplace experience is as seamless and frictionless as possible. Soland says he may miss being able to work surrounded by his sports memorabilia. However, he knows that his team will be very busy evolving to more digitally enabled operations. Plus, they will work to bring more automation and data-driven analysis to create more predictive and prescriptive services and experiences.
One thing is abundantly clear – the future at National Grid is definitely more digital.