How DFS responded to the recent COVID-19 pandemic through use of Google Cloud technologies.
Netpremacy has had a longstanding relationship with DFS for over 4 years now, and initially helped one of their Group companies Sofology transition across to G Suite. After the bounding success of this project, DFS decided to move all of their 4 brands across to G Suite with Netpremacy, to improve the way in which they worked. More detail on the journey with DFS and Netpremacy can be found here.
On the 23rd March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that the UK was to be put into lockdown to help squash the curve and help the NHS to deal with the current COVID-19 pandemic. This caused many big changes for businesses all over the UK, and our customer DFS was one of the businesses that needed to immediately change the way in which they were currently working.
Now that the dust has begun to settle, and businesses are becoming used to working remotely across the UK, we sat down with Group Technology Director, Russell Harte, DFS to discuss how the company has successfully adapted in the recent conditions thanks to G Suite and Google Cloud.
As soon as the lockdown was announced, the DFS group decided to immediately close down all operations, pause deliveries and halt manufacturing. DFS was then left with just an online presence, and had no other option than to furlough 5,000 members of staff across the UK.
“We decided we wanted to do the right thing and protect as many people as possible” – Russell Harte, DFS
Due to the whole organisation already being on G Suite, the business was able to respond quickly, and move the workforce to remote working immediately.
“We had started installing Google Meet hardware in a number of meeting rooms before the pandemic, so we had already started to change the culture and stopped bringing people to the same place for some meetings and training events. It just made a massive difference to how our teams are communicating, even bringing more colour to just a conference call. We had a few key people who embraced this, but in the pandemic world Google Meet has become a rapid default. From day one there were a number of posts on our internal communication platform about how big a difference using G Suite had made, and if we hadn’t had it, how would we have worked.” – Russell Harte, DFS
This meant that the business was quickly able to adapt to new working environments and to ultimately keep the business running. Russell mentioned that it was easy for everyone to transition, even some of the less technical staff, due to the simplicity of G Suite.
“We realised early on in our original roll out project that we could implement single sign-on across the business, so we started getting into cloud identity early on. This happened to have a big impact in light of the pandemic, it’s allowed us to move some of the applications a lot faster than we would have thought.”- Russell Harte, DFS
Due to the collaborative features of G Suite, the teams are still able to work seamlessly across Docs, Sheets, and Slides, collaborating successfully on the same documents simultaneously in order to turn around work and get communications sent around the organisation.
“In the last few weeks we have been using single sign-on for quite a few applications and clearly using G Suite as the authentication method for doing so. Another product we use internally is Cloudflare Access, again using Google Authentication as a way to access quite a large number of our applications and that’s helped us a lot in the recent pandemic.” – Russell Harte, DFS
Russell mentioned that the marketing and PR teams especially were benefiting from the Chat feature in Hangouts. The instant messaging service is helping to keep the marketing and PR teams in constant communication. The teams, who respond to customer inquiries across social media channels, have found the instant messaging in Chat has sped up their communication and enabled them to react faster and support customers.
It’s not just specific teams that G Suite is helping with, in fact, it is keeping the whole organisation in contact and up to date. The culture change that the pandemic has forced upon many businesses around the UK was taken up by the teams at DFS, as teams across the company took it in their stride. Even furloughed staff are continuing to engage with their team members across the organisation through Google Meet for quizzes and social events. Meaning everyone is still kept connected, and team morale is kept high in these unprecedented times.
“We have furloughed just over 5,000 staff. We’re in week four now in the UK and we have seen a number of our teams do everything from quizzes to bingo using hangouts. It’s just allowed the teams to stay in touch in a fantastic way” – Russell Harte, DFS
Netpremacy was able to help DFS quickly and efficiently move across their team drives, as well as ensuring that 2SV was enabled in order to keep the company data safe.
“There was little Netpremacy needed to do to help DFS be prepared for the pandemic, as we had already implemented G Suite and Chrome devices across the organisation. They had the tools they needed, and the support from us to work remotely almost immediately.” Ben Trood, Business Development, Netpremacy