Rentokil Initial is the world’s largest pest control and hygiene company and employs 46,000 colleagues in 88 countries. During the Coronavirus pandemic, its colleagues, like many others, moved to working from home. Seeing the positive opportunity remote working posed for its business and colleagues, the company in the UK decided to adopt a permanent hybrid working model for many of its office-based roles.
With a more streamlined office portfolio yet a continued desire to bring colleagues together for face to face collaboration, Rentokil Initial approached Netpremacy to build them an office booking solution. Now, Rentokil colleagues can quickly and easily book time and physical space together, see who else is in the office and more. In addition, with the move to hot-desking in its headquarters, an innovative desk booking solution has allowed colleagues to embrace onsite collaboration whilst enjoying the flexibility of a hybrid working environment.
Rentokil Initial is the world’s largest pest control and hygiene services company and employs 46,000 colleagues. Rentokil works with commercial and residential properties, tackling common pests such as rodents, flies, and biting insects.
We spoke to Ed Higgs, Group Director of IT Shared Services at Rentokil Initial, about how the company took the pandemic catalyst for hybrid working and turned it into a long-term plan that creates a healthy work-life balance for its employees.
The hybrid working model was very well-received by employees. However, when adapting to the new way of working, the company faced some initial challenges – in particular with the reintroduction of Covid-19 restrictions across the UK, the company had the issue of a new hot-desking approach and social distancing to contend with at some points throughout the process, limiting the office capacity.
To combat these challenges Ed Higgs – whose broad remit covers company collaboration tools and ensures consistent, high-quality experiences – decided to look into a desk booking solution. He wanted something that would allow colleagues to book into Rentokil Initial’s offices in advance, so they could collaborate face to face but offices would not be left too full or too empty.
After some time researching the market, Ed decided to approach Netpremacy, as a trusted partner with a longstanding relationship. “I took the problem to Netpremacy and they suggested a solution almost immediately,” said Ed. “We have a great relationship with Netpremacy, it’s a true partnership.”
Once the Netpremacy Development team understood functionality and scalability requirements, they built a suitable application using the Spring Boot and React frameworks. Designed for Google Cloud Platform, the solution utilised the following services: App Engine, Cloud SQL, Big Query, and Storage. Custom built for Rentokil’s needs, it was adapted to accommodate their offices and meet its fundamental purpose: a user-friendly bespoke desk booking system.
The custom-built tool reports directly into Google Calendar allowing employees to see when other colleagues are booked into the office, giving them the freedom to choose nearby desks, enhancing collaboration across teams and departments. The tool’s simple functionality means little to no user training is required, meaning Ed and his team can concentrate their time elsewhere.
As Rentokil changes its working patterns the tool can easily be adapted to meet new needs.Ed explained “When we re-opened the UK office, we recommended employees come in two days a week and that they should use the same desk every time. That meant out of 100+ desks, not all of them were bookable every day. Netpremacy came back very quickly with a solution that allowed us to configure desks so we could accommodate this requirement.” Additional offices and desks can be added to the solution as Ed and his team expand it to other Rentokil locations. Data can then be stored in GCP and analysed through Big Query to detect busy spikes, popular days, and busier office locations.
As a result of the tool, Rentokil Initial could:
Quickly and safely return to the office. The company has reduced the amount of manual work required to reunite their team.
Minimise admin time. The app saves colleagues time when booking into the office, as members can favourite their preferred office location and preferences to make the signup process highly efficient. By utilising this booking app, Rentokil is also reducing uncertainty, showing that their employees’ happiness is a top priority.
As Covid restrictions gradually ease, Rentokil Initial is leading the way with hybrid working. The desk booking solution is so successful they are looking at the prospect of implementing it into their global infrastructure outside of the UK.
“We conducted a survey a year ago where people were asked how they were enjoying working from home, and overwhelmingly people said they preferred a hybrid flexible model,” said Ed. With the health and wellbeing of their employees a priority, Rentokil Initial moved all colleagues to hybrid working contracts in keeping with the results seen in the survey. However, understanding the importance of face to face communication, Renotkil’s desk booking solution has encouraged teams to come in on joint days for those ‘water-cooler moments.’
By creating this tool, Rentokil Initial has identified itself as a leader in the future of work. They took proactive steps at a time that was incredibly challenging to future-proof their business and support their employees. Netpremacy and Rentokil Initial will continue working together to power the company with Google Cloud tools.