DLG needed to quickly shift from an office-based organisation, to the vast majority of its employees working from home. It chose Total for its ability to respond rapidly, its flexibility and its competitive pricing. Total provides a complete service encompassing procurement, configuration, deployment and support of IT to DLG’s home workers, and has delivered more than 100,000 items.
Headquartered in Bromley, Direct Line Group (DLG) is one of the UK’s leading insurance companies. Through its well-known brands such as Direct Line, Churchill, Green Flag and Privilege, DLG offers a wide range of home, personal and motor insurance products to consumers.
Prior to COVID-19, DLG employees were primarily based in offices and call centres located across the UK. But when the UK went into ‘lockdown’, companies had to respond near-instantly to enable their employees to work from home. For DLG, this meant enabling around 9,000 people to work from home.
“In common with the vast majority of large companies we went from a tactical plan to cope with a few people being out of the office, to a full-on working from home strategy for everyone – against a backdrop of significant supply chain problems, with no kit visible in the channel, and manufacturing issues in China,” explained James Rawbone, Core Technology Product Manager at Direct Line Group.
“We had to scale up that tactical plan, and with three days’ notice we had to move the vast majority of our people to working from home,” said James.
DLG faced multiple challenges: obtaining IT equipment – at a time when it was nearly impossible to source such products and against a backdrop of intense competition from other businesses – getting it deployed and set-up at arms’ length, and then supporting it at thousands of individual home locations.
“And once we’d resolved the immediate problem and got everyone working, we needed to develop a sustainable and manageable model for home working that satisfied the varying needs of regulator, customer, user and the business,” said James.
DLG approached several suppliers to see who could help it, but not everyone was able to assist. James said, “We realised we needed immediate, urgent support from our IT partners. Total was one of those we selected to work with based on both flexibility and price, and a confidence that their agility would enable them to deliver in unprecedented times.”
“I’ve got a lot of experience from working as a systems integrator in the past, and to do this would usually take weeks if not months.” said James. “The difference with Total was that within three days, we were delivering hundreds of laptops a day to our people.”
Within just two weeks DLG was able to move nearly 9,000 of its office-based staff to home working. Total solved the immediate problem of a lack of hardware with a mixture of rental and refurbished laptops, alongside monitors, wireless keyboards and mice and Bluetooth headsets.
Total cleaned, refurbished and repaired the laptops as needed, and recorded the serial number of every item it shipped. Each laptop was configured with a base Windows 10 image and multi-factor authentication (MFA). Total created quick-start set-up instructions and sent them with the equipment bundle directly to each user’s home address.
To keep costs down, Total also helped DLG to re-use its existing IT equipment where possible. For example, Total reclaimed, tested, cleaned and packaged thousands of 24-inch screens from DLG’s offices – saving around 75% of the cost compared to buying a new monitor.
Total now provides equipment to DLG staff within 24 hours of request. All procurement, shipping and repairs can be managed by DLG within the service software it uses, which Total has integrated into its systems.
Windows Autopilot enabled a zero-touch digital deployment for each device – this automatically commenced as soon as the user connected to the internet – while Microsoft Intune provided DLG’s support team with remote device management.
Total also provides a hardware break-fix service, directly to users’ homes, with next business day response and, for vulnerable users, same day response.
“We’ve endeavoured to make it comfortable for people to work from home: we’ve shipped monitors, desks and chairs to help our people.” said James. “We aim to provide technology that’s suitable, whatever a user’s home environment and work style. We’re constantly working on the technology we need, and Total is helping us define what that looks like.”
Looking back at the urgency of the first few days of the home working transformation, James said, “I received assurances really early on from Total’s leadership, that whatever our requirements, whatever it takes, Total wouldn’t stop until it was delivered – that was important for me to hear. And they lived up to their word.”
Total has now shipped more than 100,000 separate items to DLG’s staff, to enable them to work from home. James said, “We’re now at the point where we understand what our employees need – and we’re there because of the support from Total.”
“The whole operation was in support of our end customers, which includes people broken down by the side of the road needing urgent assistance and people who have suffered bereavements, said James. “The support of Total contributed to our being able to continue to deliver a great quality service to our customers despite the pandemic.”
"At the outset of the global pandemic, we made the decision to rapidly move our workforce home. We needed to stand-up a new supply chain and fulfilment capability to support this urgent need, working with a partner that could rapidly deliver this need and supporting our dynamic and evolving requirements.
Total, were chosen due to their proven capability, agility, and flexibility with commercially structuring this arrangement in a fair and competitive manner. Within 72 hours of signing our initial agreement, and beyond our expectations, the supply chain and fulfilment centre had been stood up and the first batch of equipment was being shipped out to our key and vulnerable colleagues – providing them with the equipment required to continue to support our customers during a very trying time.
Over the subsequent twelve months Total have shipped over 100k items to our workforce – allowing us to rapidly, and ahead of the market, ensure we could continue to support our customers with our full range of services."
Matthew Poulter, Head of Core Technology, Direct Line Group
Looking to the future DLG is now reimagining the way it works – moving to a mixed model of working where most people will split their time between home and the office.
“The entire process was second to none,” said James. “Total exceeded our expectations, and have very much proven themselves as an organisation – they've shown the care of a much smaller business, whilst being large enough to deliver what we needed, when we needed it.”