Four Questions for Ronan Dunne
Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefónica 02 UK shows the business case for flexi-working
Telefónica O2 CEO Ronan Dunne recently talked to us about flexi-working and his experience with Global Action Plan. Here's what he had to say.
What are the main business benefits to O2 for the flexi-working initiative?
There’s quite a few to choose from. But if I had to pick out just two, I’d say these would have to include cost savings and employee engagement. We’ve calculated that each desk in our offices comes at a cost of roughly £7000 per year. When we built our new headquarters in Slough in 2009, we made the decision to build this with flexi-working in mind. That saved us almost 550 desks, or over £3.8m a year in costs.
But the bigger benefit of flexi-working is that of engaging our people. 64% of O2 people involved in our recent HQ push on flexi-working prior to the 2012 Olympics that Global Action Plan supported, feel they are now more productive. Those involved regularly reference a better work/life balance. And as a business, flexi-working has allowed us to pool from a wider geographical skillsforce, who can all work remotely and collectively, sharing the same systems, documents and meetings across Telefónica UK and beyond.
Have there been any unexpected outcomes (both good and bad) from the initiative?
The biggest positive has been the number of people who once they’ve embraced flexi-working, told us how it helped them live their live more easily. After both our recent campaign spanning the Olympics and our February trial day, 85% tell us that they’re either "confident" or "very confident" that they’ve adopted it permanently. Not only that, but we now have over 60% of our Slough HQ office working flexibly more than once a week.
If there is a downside, it was that a small number of people did feel more isolated when working away from their team. But even there, when only remotely working 1 or 2 days a week, that’s not become a problem. And besides, some teams have even adopted virtual coffee-breaks.
How did you ‘sell’ the concept to your employees?
I hope we’ve been honest in how we’ve sold it. We’ve not pretended that cost-savings weren’t a driver, but we’ve emphasized that it’s by no means the only one. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s about using & proving the same O2 technology that we’re offering to other businesses. It’s about listening to our people, and giving them control over how, when and where they work.
So I’m confident that the way we sold this to our people was through open and transparent dialogue on the mutual benefits to Telefónica UK and them. The thing with flexible working is that it’s about culture shift & changing mindsets, and that requires transparency from the get-go.
What role has Global Action Plan played in delivering the initiative?
Global Action Plan (GAP) helped us across the spring and summer of 2012 to prepare our population in Slough (and beyond), further embrace flexi-working in the run-up to, during and post the London 2012 Olympics.
GAP has been a vital team member across the entirety of this project. Working across the organization with everyone from Board members, the cross-functional working group, and the entire Slough population and beyond, GAP helped inspire, lead and coordinate the delivery of this project. I can honestly say that I doubt we could have delivered so quickly and efficiently without them.
Find out more
We've been talking a lot about flexi-working lately.
- To see the results of the Telefonica UK flexi-working programme, and to find out how it worked, read the case study.
- Read about and download our recent Business in Motion travel report, sponsored by Telefonica UK which includes our golden rules on putting a travel plan in place.
- Our CEO Trewin Restorick featured in a recent 2degrees network webinar on reducing staff travel. Watch the webinar recording here (registration required.)
Talk to us about putting an effective flexi-working programme in your organisation.