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How do you connect tens of thousands of employees from around the globe to build a shared sense of purpose? This was the challenge we joined forces with Virgin Group on, collaborating together over 18 months to develop and deploy the solution: Virgin Family.

It represented a step-change in their global employee engagement strategy and brought together staff from around the world to share stories, collaborate, connect with leadership, learn about the brand and tap in to deals and discounts.

We recently caught up with their Brand and Creative Director, Fiona Ross to discuss the project, Gate One’s role in delivering it, how an agile and collaborative approach suited the various Virgin companies across the group and the value that Virgin have derived from it since. Watch the full video below or read the transcript.

David: Welcome, Fiona. I’m here to talk to you a little about your role at Virgin, also about how you’re seeing employee experiences change. But then delve into Virgin Family, which is the project that Gate One and Virgin have worked on. Virgin, obviously an iconic brand, you know, known for being first, disruptive, inclusive. Pre Virgin Family, how did you bring that to life for employees?

Fiona: Prior to Virgin Family, what we would need to do is rely quite heavily on the central team to be able to communicate the brand. We had some small internal platforms and we had and our social channels, but it was a little bit disparate and that’s why we embarked on the creation of Virgin Family, to build that sense of connection and belonging. And now we have a place where everyone can share stories, can learn about the brand, can get wonderful deals and discounts and have access to people like Richard and Holly and our leadership. So, everyone is now in one place, our online home for Virgin.

David: How did you find the way in which the work was approached to be able to ensure that it got a good representative perspective of what was important to each of those Virgin companies?

Fiona: Well, I think the first thing with working with your Gate One team is they were highly collaborative. So, you know, deeply embedded in our central team, very insight driven and there was a lovely agility but thoroughness and a delivery focus. The Gate One team, through our project team, connected with the Virgin companies and really made sure that they were part of the proposition building. The primary reason for the development of Virgin Family was to have this shared sense of purpose, this ability to connect and collaborate and then also strengthen the brand by making sure everyone was really under the skin of it and how to deliver it. And Virgin Family has been absolutely set up to do that. So, there were four core pillars around social connection, talent and collaboration, brand knowledge, and then deals and discounts.

David: Yeah and thinking about those pillars and what have you seen the value that’s been derived from this?

Fiona: We now have 62,000 people on the platform from 32 countries and over 40 Virgin companies. That’s the first time that that has ever happened. And I think that connection and knowledge share is going to lead to a very empowered base of employees and it’s a really efficient way for us centrally to be able to connect with people. So, there’s strong commercial benefits, there’s brand benefits, there’s company benefits, but there’s also employee benefits, that sense of belonging and being part of something bigger.

David: We obviously love working with Virgin across different Virgin companies and we feel there’s a real cultural synergy in terms of how we work and how you work.

Fiona: I think both businesses are motivated by purpose and both businesses want to do things better. And the strength of the partnership is that we continue to do work with Gate One. I think it’s opened, opened the doors. We’re benefiting and building our capabilities and thoroughly enjoying working with Gate One too.

David: So, what’s next for Virgin Family?

Fiona: Well, we’re currently grappling with Gen AI and what role it plays and that’s a perfect community to be able to ask questions.

David: And we found a lot in the work that we’ve done with Virgin, there’s such an appetite for people to collaborate, to share best practice, share learning and knowledge and now the platform just opened up the ability for them to do that at scale and in a relatively straightforward way, join the community and they can share that knowledge and learning.

Fiona: Yeah, it’s wonderful that we’ve now got the platform built and all these people on it and the team are going to be focused around mentorship and driving collaboration because it’s incredibly powerful if you can assemble different experts from different companies around a particular task. So, the collaboration element will be built out and then just continuing to drive with really fun and engaging content and events and getting more and more people sharing their news and stories.

David: If you look after employees, they’ll look after your customers.

Fiona: Exactly. Happy employees, happy customers, happy company. And that was a flipping of the order and may it forever be reversed in that way.

David: Agreed. Thank you so much for coming in. Really enjoyed the conversation.

Fiona: Thank you for all the amazing work.