Atlas Case Study Series with Places Leisure (Places for People)

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Phil White, Head of Technology at PfP Leisure, was interviewed for the Atlas Case Study series to discuss PfP Leisure’s vision for a digital transformation. In the interview, Phil highlighted the importance of a digital platform which works to exchange information and re-educate their employees following COVID.

We will follow PfP Leisure as the organisation goes on a strategic digital transformation journey with Atlas, the digital workplace platform for Microsoft 365 from ClearPeople. It's a journey starting from a desire to modernise internal systems, which was accelerated by the global pandemic, to now enabling the organisation with a flexible platform to support it through the changing requirements - from crisis-communication to supporting more than 8,000 colleagues to return to work post-furlough.

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PfP Places Leisure logo

Places Leisure is part of the Places for People group and works with Local Authority partners to deliver places and activities that make a difference to the lives of their communities. 

Places Leisure's mission is to ‘create active places and healthy people’ and as a social enterprise, Places Leisure’s efforts and funds are utilised to develop the quality of service and facilities and to widen the opportunities for all sections of the community to participate in physical and health related activity. Places Leisure attracts 30 million leisure centre visits each year.

Atlas Platform overview

The Atlas Digital Workplace includes out-of-the-box communications, collaboration and knowledge capabilities for end-users, management and IT. Atlas defines a new digital workplace platform category known as a "Knowledge Productivity Platform".

Atlas is installed within the customer's Microsoft 365 (Office 365) tenant and Azure infrastructure, leveraging existing Microsoft 365 licenses, security/compliance settings, Active Directory and more.

The platform fully supports Microsoft Teams, Yammer, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Groups, Planner, OneNote, Power Apps, Power BI and much more.

PfP Leisure is a forward-thinking business. A lot of innovation has been implemented with regard to the customers’ engagement. One of their challenges, however, is internal. Most of PfP’s employees are not daily IT users or ‘known accounts’, such as lifeguards or fitness instructors, for example, who didn’t have corporate emails.

As an example; Phil said there was no way of knowing if information had landed or whether staff had access to the right documents when needed: “email was our de-facto way of sending information which left us with no visibility whether important information was being received or engaged with whatsoever.”

PfP Leisure’s vision was to start with changing the payroll system, and then to integrate this with their parent company, moving everyone to Office 365 by March 2020, before launching ClearPeople’s Atlas as the primary communication platform.

No sooner than this was completed, the COVID pandemic hit. Very soon after, PfP Leisure was forced to close the doors of their leisure centres and subsequently furloughed 90% of its workforce.

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As the lockdown measures starting easing, and the company looked to reopen their facilities, a wealth of new knowledge and information became a necessity. Both for handling “the return of staff” but also on how to reopen the facilities. The leadership teams viewed the delivery and engagement of that new information as crucial for the effective continuation of business operations post-COVID.

Phil commented: “we needed to develop from a business who did not utilise digital systems in the frontline, to having to be ready overnight.” The business lacked an effective method, previously relying on an old intranet system.

The new goal PfP Leisure set out is to better utilise digital technologies by implementing Atlas as a ‘central hub’ for information, rather than just a communication platform. This will allow for the creation, updating and alignment of relevant data and analytics in order to assist in driving performance and customer service as they open their doors after the initial COVID lockdown.

  • "I rest a bit easier knowing that we got a platform that they came come and find the information [they need to know or need to do]"

    Phil White, Head of IT, Places Leisure

  • "We see staff being more engaged through Atlas, which we [can] track by seeing that they are better equipped and able to deal with any and all challenges."

    Phil White, Head of IT, Places Leisure

  • "We firmly believe we’ll see staff being more engaged through Atlas [resulting in them being] better equipped and able to deal with any and all challenges.”

    Phil White, Head of IT, Places Leisure

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To support PfP Leisure’s objectives, ClearPeople offered a solution to consolidate multiple business information sources and collaboration platforms in one place on Atlas, a Microsoft 365 Teams and people-first digital workplace combining everything in a consolidated employee experience - the perfect solution to the challenges mentioned by Phil.

Atlas offers PfP Leisure’s employees a space to easily share, search for and update crucial information, FAQs, documents and policies as they work on the frontline in leisure and health centres, enabling them to deliver best-in-class customer service.

Phil emphasised how Atlas will enable everyone to engage better with information shared by colleagues and the business: “we firmly believe we’ll see staff being more engaged through Atlas, which we will track by seeing that they are better equipped and able to deal with any and all challenges.”
The launch of Atlas is the starting point as PfP Leisure offers new and modern ways for the company and its employees to stay connected in the new world.

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