Desjardins, North America’s largest federation of credit unions recently moved their office to the Olympic Stadium’s Montréal Tower. Complementing this dynamic modern space is a comprehensive Indoor Positioning System.
A dynamic smart workspace
Over the last decade, Desjardins experienced a substantial increase in their number of employees, doubling from 600 to 1,200. This dramatic development called for some major changes, one of them being the relocation to a big enough office space that can accommodate the whole workforce.
A digital transformation had been discussed and attempted several times before, but every project had failed. The word “transformation” evoked anxiety and hindered Desjardins from taking any further action in this direction.
Moving the office to the Montréal Tower however, finally provided for the perfect frame to digitalize on a grand scale. The idea for “Project Chameleon” was born.
Digital Transformation or “Launching Project ‘Chameleon’”
Due to fierce competition, it’s already hard enough to attract young talent fresh out of university. Financial institutions in particular, though, have to deal with the prejudice of being old-fashioned and are therefore very often considered unattractive. Providing a great office location that is digitally connected would turn the tables.
Another key driver for Desjardin’s digital transformation was to improve their performance by increasing interaction among employees. The mobile app helps encourage engagement and spurs socializing and team work, which in turn bears potential to have positive effects on overall performance.
“A digital transformation is not just technology, it’s a culture change” – Serge Bendahan, Senior Advisor, Desjardins
Project “Chameleon” was set in motion and a diverse group of representatives, made up of Desjardin’s VP to other professionals and call center agents, who make up 66% of Desjardin’s workforce, was working out the concept of the app.
Actively including their employees in the decision making process and making them an integral part of the transformation was crucial to Desjardins and one of the main reasons why the project was such as big success.
The three main features employees wanted the app to contain were:
- Colleague finder (Geolocation)
- Desk occupancy status
- Culinary experience
A big selection process for technology solutions providers was commenced. After presenting their ideas to several companies, they finally found their ideal partners for this project in Jibestream (indoor mapping), reelyActive (occupancy analytics), Logient (system integrator) and indoo.rs (real-time indoor positioning).
“Undertaking this complex digitalization project was a big challenge, one we’ve been a bit anxious to take on. However, having strong partners like indoo.rs, Jibestream and reelyActive, made everything a lot easier for us.” –Serge Bendahan, Senior Advisor, Desjardins
About the Desjardins App
One of the designated project goals was to increase interaction among employees to improve overall performance. With an office stretching over 150,000 sqft on seven floors and 1,200 employees buzzing around, finding specific colleagues can be a tedious task.
Especially since Desjardins employees were used to working in closed, personalized offices before, switching to open office spaces posed a completely new challenge to them.
Using the app, employees are now empowered to create a friendlist and share their real-time location with colleagues. Finding specific colleagues for ad-hoc meetings, collaborating on a project or just sitting with friends is now a piece of cake, as the app shows their current location on the map.
“The indoo.rs Blue Dot solution has been a key contribution to transforming our office into a digitalized and smart workspace.” – Serge Bendahan, Senior Advisor, Desjardins
When integrating this location sharing feature into the app, concerns of employees over privacy protection were taken into account as well. Whereas friends can always see each other’s location on the map, others who are classified as business contacts can not. In this case, the location will be shared for 30 minutes to facilitate meeting with this person, after that, however, it will expire.
Desk occupancy analytics
Besides private office spaces, conference rooms, a wellness and entertainment area and several other amenities, a big part of the office is open area positions. These are available for 1,200 employees at the same time and work based on the hot desking principle.
Again, finding an available desk in such a vast area can be quite a challenge and cost valuable time. One glance at the mobile app gives Desjardins employees an overview of all floor levels and their individual desk occupancy rate.
Like this, users can see where the most work stations are still available in real time and make their way to them straight, without any unnecessary detours. This feature has been perceived as really helpful by the employees, helping them save time and enhancing their comfort.
Since two thirds of Desjardins’ employees are made up of call center agents with very rigid work schedules, a critical aspect to consider when building the app, was time efficiency. One area that bore potential to save time was food services.
Call center agents only have 30 minutes to spend their lunch break. Walking to the bistro, checking the daily menu, queuing up to order and finally eating can become quite tedious. Instead of giving employees a break from their tight work schedule, lunch was just another stressful experience.
Now, the mobile app includes a feature that allows employees to pre-order their meals online. Being able to check the menu and order directly via the app, saves them seven valuable minutes out of their 30 minute lunch break, thus helping them to enjoy it a little more every day.
Although not one of the key features employees wanted to have at all costs, the maintenance management functionality has proven quite helpful already. According to Serge Bendahan, the reporting feature is used on a regular basis, even in a new building such as the Montréal Tower. Since even minor things like a torn cable or a defective air condition may cause disruptions in the work routine, they should be reported instantly.
The app allows users who detect problems in the building to upload a photo, including a short note detailing the problem. These are then sent as an e-mail to the right department, for repair. Most importantly though, the user can mark their exact location on the map in the app, making it really easy for the person in charge of maintenance to find the respective device and fix it.
A look into the Future
Currently, two months after launching the app, around 40% of all employees are actively using the app on a daily basis. As more time passes and the positive effects begin to show more clearly, the adoption rate is likely to continue rising.
Furthermore, the plan is to regularly update the app with even more features all employees can benefit from in their daily working routines. The following features are likely to be part of this evolution:
- Wayfinding – helping externals find their way to meetings independently
- Meeting room booking
- Integration of reporting feature with ticketing system
“We are extremely excited about how our project turned out. In the future, we are planning to continue integrating new features into the app to provide our employees with even greater comfort.” – Serge Bendahan, Senior Advisor, Desjardins