FMJ hears how Matrix Booking is working to transform the future of work for Direct Line Group with a software solution that goes beyond a simple workplace booking system
Direct Line needs little introduction. At some point in our lives nearly everyone has seen the famous red phone appear on their screens. Formed in 2012 by Royal Bank of Scotland Group’s (RBS) insurance division, the Direct Line Group (DLG) comprises several well-known brands including Green Flag, Churchill, and of course, Direct Line. Whether in an office or in a repair centre, DLG has approximately 10,000 employees serving customers across the UK.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the widespread adoption of hybrid working. DLG needed to adapt to this changing landscape to support its employees in delivering the best service possible and ensuring their safety at work.
This is where Steve Thorburn, Security Assurance Manager for DLG Property comes in. Responsible for shaping the future of working at DLG, Thorburn and the Property team ensure that employees are supported in their work, while also maintaining their safety and security.
THE HYBRID REVOLUTION
DLG first began exploring the available options for an intuitive resource management system that was flexible, mobile and easily accessible back in 2017. Three years later, as with many organisations, Direct Line Group was required to implement strict pandemic measures, such as Track and Trace and social distancing.
As hybrid working became the norm worldwide, a common challenge emerged. Many companies faced issues with their workspace reservations. Some workspaces filled up with walk-ins despite being booked, while others remained empty because workers failed to show up on the allocated day and time.
DLG was determined to find a solution that went above and beyond a simple workplace booking system. It had to be a solution that would show not just the reservations made, but most importantly the reservations that were fulfilled. It was essential for both the property and leadership teams to capture data that would provide accurate and trustworthy occupancy insight. The plan was to then use this information to shape the property strategy.
THE SEARCH BEGINS
During its search for a solution, Direct Line Group found that most providers suggested using QR codes and lights to manage desk bookings. However, the property team soon realised that this method relied too heavily on employee behaviour, having to check devices or manually check in. It was time to find something that could eliminate the extra step, something that could provide a smoother experience.
Thorburn explains how, when faced with this hurdle, the team pulled together to find a way to overcome the complications. Working together, they decided they needed to link the “new booking system with [the] access control system by developing an API, and only providing access if employees had a resource booked”.
A NEW HOPE
Direct Line Group partnered with Matrix Booking, who proposed they create a resource booking system that would integrate the Group’s access control system. This solution would ensure that only those who had made a reservation could enter the building and also provide confirmation of attendance against the booking made.
Following a successful testing period, the company was able to roll out the system in December 2022. Thorburn recalls: “We chose Matrix Booking for several reasons. While the cost was very competitive and demonstrated real value for money, the team also made us feel secure in the knowledge that they will give us focus and excellent customer service.”
SMOOTHER AND SAFER WORKPLACE EXPERIENCE
Direct Line Group has been able to better support its employees in the workspaces. With the ability to monitor office activity, it soon became clear how many bookings were made and, more importantly, how many were fulfilled. The property team could also gain a better understanding of the cadence of employees’ use of the office and alter resource allocation accordingly.
This led to a more sustainable approach to operations. For example, after the first few months of implementation, Direct Line Group found that of all bookings made, only around 65 per cent were being fulfilled. With only two thirds of people turning up, DLG was able to scale down resourcing to a suitable level.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Thorburn says: “The Matrix Booking technical team have been excellent. I am excited to see the new developments ahead of us and looking forward to how these will further enhance the way that we work at Direct Line Group.”
Matrix Booking will continue to work with DLG to analyse the workspace occupancy and identify the areas that require improvement. These can then be addressed to improve the working environment and employee satisfaction. In addition, the data drawn from the system will help DLG to guide its facilities provision, property and environmental strategies for the coming years.
Thorburn adds: “My advice to anyone looking to undertake a similar project is to be clear on your operational requirements, but do not let them become a restriction. Start by creating user stories for each user type and map their needs to ensure the product meets both your departments’ and the building users’ needs. Understanding the subtle differences in web and app functionality is also key, ensuring that the system is readily available to all.”