Vpod Smart Solutions recently worked with Sodexo Group – a food services and Facilities Management company – in support of their Vital Spaces proposition: to keep the people of the business at the heart of all operations. Sodexo was founded in 1966 in the French city of Marseille, “born from the conviction that the tangible actions and daily interactions drive real improvement to people’s lives, to communities and the planet”.
Sodexo quickly recognised the change in employee needs within the modern workplace – a space that could facilitate real collaboration and productivity; a workspace that can be more than the traditional 9-5 office. With this core tenant in mind, they reached out to Vpod which shares the same belief that people and tech work hand-in-hand to create the ultimate workplace ecosystem.
Through consultations and careful planning, Vpod and Sodexo found a great solution that could meet the workplace’s specific needs by installing both Vflex smart lockers and Vgreet virtual reception kiosks at the Sodexo office’s reception. Starting with their UK headquarters, the goal is to implement successful strategies across their international locations.
We invited Harpreet Cheema, Head of Workplace Services, and Alexandra Kristall, Managing Director UK&I, to discuss the process and share some insights into how Vpod fit into Sodexo’s Vital Spaces initiative:
- Vpod’s consultative approach was seen as a partnership that has helped Sodexo not only solve its challenges but also make the onboarding process smooth and easy.
- Vgreet & Vflex are seen as an enhancement for Sodexo’s service delivery, rather than replacing their staff.
- Sodexo implemented its strategy with a connected workplace in mind, connecting around 20 applications on one single platform.
Q: “Tell us more about the Vital Space”
A: “Vital space is a new value proposition at Sodexo to help clients to focus on their employees and space […] so how do you bring the employee needs to match that with creating a space that really helps the employees to be productive and engaged […] and the output is more successful for the organisation.”
Like Vpod, Sodexo believes that employees deserve a workplace that supports their needs and adapts to their workflows. Inconvenient and impractical working conditions can negatively impact employees’ well-being and thereby their performance. With the Vital Space proposition, Sodexo strives to take a holistic approach to workplace management. They strive to create a space that encourages collaboration and accommodates mixed working patterns while optimising their space and prioritising the overall employee experience. With this, they hope to create a welcoming and accessible space that can attract and nurture talent.
Creating a truly supportive workspace, both personally and practically, requires a well-thought-through process to identify what needs improvement.
We asked Cheema and Kristall:
Q: “What challenges were you facing before working with Vpod?”
The first thing that came up was the inconsistency that visitors and employees experience when checking in and out at the reception:
A: “What we found is the inconsistency around the guest journey that is being delivered by different people […] What we really wanted to do is to drive that level of consistency and experience for visitors and employees.”
Having different people each day, maybe even in one day, means the reception experience can never be completely consistent. The reception might be understaffed or overstaffed, they might be onboarding a new receptionist or adjusting to new technology, of all which results in inconsistent and unpredictable visitor experiences.
A: “[…] We want to repurpose our receptionists from sitting behind the desk to more customer-facing, to really drive that experience rather than just checking people in and out.”
Rather than having the reception staff stuck behind the desk, glued to a computer, Sodexo was looking to create a true concierge-style reception experience instead. They wanted a solution that allowed staff to tend to more important tasks and aid in making the reception experience a comfortable and easy one.
Secondly, Sodexo mentioned how inconvenient their check-in process had been before:
A: “Before we introduced Vgreet, we had 20 different manual steps to check our visitors, which didn’t have any consistency. For example, to register a visitor or employee, we had to book a meeting room on one system, send an email to the facility team, notify the security downstairs, and then inform visitors how to get to our office.”
The Vital Space is not just for the workers inside the office, but for everyone. Automating and streamlining the check-in process not only makes life easier for the employees as they check in; it allows the reception staff to be more than just robots who rinse and repeat the same process 100 times a day.
Vpod installed customised Vgreet reception kiosks at Sodexo’s reception to solve these specific challenges. Previously, they had 3 full-time employees working behind the reception desk.
We asked them how their new reception process was going:
Q: “How many receptionists have been repurposed?”
By upgrading to one community manager role and moving two other employees to other areas of the business, they have now completely removed the need for reception-only staff:
A: “[…] During peak times, they (the community manager) are around that reception area just to help and guide […] and support Vgreet. Around quieter times, they may be helping out in the meeting room or filling out the coffee machines. With Vgreet, we are able to widen the scope of our employees.”
As mentioned, making thorough improvements require thorough consideration of how, when, where and indeed also whom you choose to work with.
Q: “Why did you choose to work with Vpod?”
A: “There were a number of solutions out there that did a little bit of reception, a little bit of visitor management, however, what really appealed to us was the overall software solution.”
Vgreet and Vflex smart lockers are a complete package: Vpod provides both the hardware, the software, and the ability to customise both UI design and user experience. What Sodexo found especially advantageous, was that they did not have to purchase an entire visitor management and communication ecosystem in order to benefit from Vgreet:
A: The fact that Vpod’s solution is very flexible, and the ability we have to integrate our own [and our clients’] solution(s) into it, is fantastic […] Whilst, with other providers, we found we’d have to use their entire ecosystem. With Vgreet, we’ve integrated 20 different applications, which has been very easy.”
Both the Vgreet kiosks and Vflex lockers are simple and intuitive technology, but proper user guidance and onboarding are always important when implementing new systems and technology at the workplace:
Q: “How was your experience with Vpod and the process of implementing Vgreets & Lockers?”
A: “The actual implementation from the team was really nice and easy. The team were experts around that deployment cycle. They held our hands and really made it easy for us […] and gave us some very strong advice in terms of what types of set-ups we wanted. They challenged our ideas as well […] kind of explained, from their experiences and expertise, why some things that we were looking at wouldn’t work […] to guide us and help us throughout the process.”
Vpod took a consultative approach to understand the challenges and processes at Sodexo, and mapped out the user journeys to figure out how to help most effectively.
A: “It was great to have that true partner, rather than just a supplier.”
Q: “Can you tell us about the benefits & the impacts you have experienced since?”
And Sodexo once again proves to be a well-prepared company that truly cares for their people:
A: “We have been using a visitor rating system for over a year now […] Every time someone checks in, we ask them to rate the experience and Vgreet has the ability to collect feedback […] After introducing Vgreet and Vflex lockers, our average rating has improved from 3 to 4.9 out of 5. We’ve seen a massive improvement.”
Vpod is thrilled to have been able to support Sodexo’s Vital Space initiative and overjoyed that the improvement has been tangible.
Apart from the improvement in the guest experience, Harpreet also mentioned improvements in areas such as cost savings, labour efficiency, and employee experiences. If you want to learn more about this, we will go in-depth with each of these points in our downloadable case study.
At the end of the interview, Alexandra Kristall, Managing Director UK&I, emphasised the concept of a digital ecosystem:
“[It] supports two aspects: Supporting the guests, who are coming into the building, and the employees, who are using [the space].
A lot of people see tech as a replacement. This is rather more of an enhancement and an enabler to service delivery […] Most importantly, it allows our teams to come out from behind that desk, and really drive that personal experience.”
By optimising their visitor management processes and introducing smart storage, Sodexo has taken another step towards understanding the needs of their employees and how to ensure productivity through trust in the human-centric workplace.
Technology is a way to move towards understanding people’s needs and drive long-term success in the modern workplace. Sodexo successfully created a connected workplace ecosystem that offers a dynamic network of spaces and environments where employees will feel engaged, effective and supported by the right digital and physical resources.
Download the full case study with Sodexo here: