SES gets everyone on board for a better meeting culture with the help of Xylos.

Have you watched any live events or sports games on TV, lately? Then, chances are, you were able to do so thanks to SES. This organization - headquartered in Luxemburg and with offices in more than thirty other countries - operates the world’s only multi-orbit constellation of satellites. None of that would be possible without the efforts of their motivated employees, in an efficient digital workplace. To that goal, a few years ago, SES deployed Microsoft Viva Insights with the workplace analytics component. This would allow SES to use workplace data, to enhance employee wellbeing.

Keeping meeting culture from becoming disruptive

One big influencer of employee wellbeing, to which SES had been paying more and more attention, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, is meeting culture. They understood that with Viva Insights the right path was just ahead of them – and with David Giles, Director of Programs they had impressive expertise on change management and Viva on board. Yet there were some challenges they wanted some assistance on.

Firstly, SES needed to develop an airtight, persuasive change management plan (powered by Viva Insights), to improve the meeting culture. One that would get particularly vigilant works councils in certain countries 100% on board.

Secondly, they wanted to be sure to analyze and visualize complex data from Viva as accurately and effectively as possible with Power BI reports, to address important business questions.

In other words, they needed an IT provider with strong Microsoft 365 and change and adoption know-how. Via Microsoft Belux’ recommendation, they found Xylos.

The virtues of human-centric IT

Getting the change management story straight

SES is a big believer in technology in service of people, both outside and within their workplace. Therefore, it was essential to the board and David Giles to provide a clear view on how the insights would serve the employees. It was important to help works councils understand that the Viva journey is a wellbeing effort, not a performance monitoring effort.

The extent of the current Viva deployment, deals with “org insights” or “organizational insights”. It analyzes meeting habits on a macro level. Xylos Change Consultants, Renaud Dejonghe and Justine Meurice, assisted David Giles in creating his presentation for the board and works councils by clearly spelling out what Viva Insights is, and what it can deliver.

Their input made it clear that, based on aggregated, de-identified data, Viva Insights provides objective answers an organization may have about its own work habits. For instance:

  • When do people work, collaborate with colleagues and hold meetings – within official work day hours, but also outside these hours?
  • What are the time spans between collaboration moments?
  • What is the amount of fragmented work hours due to meetings?

The presentation input also clarified where data is stored exactly and what types of access people in the organization can be given to use these data appropriately, and develop overall employee wellbeing.

Delivering with Viva and Power BI

A second aspect Xylos came into the picture for, was the hands-on approach with workplace analytics. David was already rather pleased with the reports the standard Power BI dashboard was generating.

At the same time, he realized that with the help of a Power BI expert, he could take it even a step further. He wanted to visualize insights that clearly answer pertinent business questions of corporate decision makers at SES.

Xylos’ Senior Power BI Consultant, Frank Bastien, sat down with David, firstly, showing him some of the ropes of automation with Power BI. In addition, Frank built very sophisticated reports that allowed David to make specific assumptions concrete. But as David Giles testified to Microsoft, it helped him and SES to look beyond existing assumptions too. They were deeply impressed with the richness of the first Power BI reports. The data they were gathering addressed important questions they hadn’t yet considered.

And great insights lead to out-of-the-box thinking. One rather uncommon initiative that was advocated by Xylos and proved to be successful for SES was the introduction of “meeting-free Wednesdays.”

Why meeting-free Wednesdays work

One observation from the Power BI data was that on Wednesdays, SES’ people generally hold fewer meetings. From a perspective of facilitating focus for employees, Frank brought up the idea of instigating meeting-free Wednesdays.

With Power BI, he and David were also able to accurately foresee the impact it would have. Hence, the SES Director of Programs was able to affirm that the hours no longer spent in meetings on Wednesdays, would not trickle through to Thursdays or Tuesdays.

The result: getting employees to reinvest time in what is useful to them.

David isn’t one to shy away from challenges. To the contrary, he set the objective of giving back 100 000 hours to the business (per year). He is well on his way.

Thanks to the technical know-how and help of Xylos’ Power BI specialist, David is able to categorize meeting hours and track key metrics on workplace collaboration. Meeting culture and wellbeing scorecards, show the breakdown of meeting and collaboration data per organizational department. This allows management to consider actions to take and guidance to provide, and has led to what can only be defined as a culture of empowerment.

Meeting-free Wednesdays, for instance, have led to 60% of people reporting improved wellbeing. 70% of the employees also indicated feeling more productive. The latter proves to be more than a feeling. Data shows meeting-free Wednesdays result in a gain of 2 hours per week… per person.

The SES case proves Viva Insights is so much more than a data tool. With the right change management approach and technical expertise, it is an absolute game changer. Xylos is extremely proud to have been part of the SES Viva journey, so far.