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“Our move to cashless has worked well. Really, really well.”
Moving premises is a demanding, stressful undertaking for any business, but when you are listed as one of the Sunday Times’ ‘100 Best Companies To Work For’, the stakes are even higher than usual.
Award-winning professional services firm, BDO Stoy Hayward LLP, the UK Member Firm of BDO International, (the world's fifth largest accountancy network with more than 600 offices in 100 countries), saw the move as an opportunity to create a working environment that would be the envy of the City.
55 Baker Street comprises 200,000 sq ft of prime office space. It is home to 1,500 staff and is the firm’s UK flagship. With the welfare of its people at the forefront of its thinking, the company began the process of designing the workplace some two years prior to the move.
Right at the start, a decision was made adopt a single multi-functional card system that would enable staff to work, access secure areas of the building and pay for purchases in a completely cashless restaurant.
Technologically, it was a tall order. In conjunction with consultants Tricon, the search began to identify a supplier capable of delivering a ‘one card does all’ solution. The demanding criteria eliminated all but the UK’s most advanced cashless companies and led ultimately to the appointment of VMC.
The selection process had been rigorous, as you’d expect of a leading business for whom staff welfare is always top of the agenda, and involved criss-crossing the City, visiting companies that had already made the leap to a cashless environment, seeing what worked and, perhaps more importantly, what didn’t.
It was this part of the process above all that identified VMC as the preferred supplier, as Andrew Jenkins, BDO’s Head of Workplace and Projects, Property and Facilities Management, explained. “By exploring VMC’s Metro system ‘in the flesh’ we assured ourselves of the resilience of their installations and of their ease of use”, he said. “What we saw on the road inspired in us the confidence that VMC could deliver the system we required; that they could do so on time and in budget, and that once it was ‘live’, the system would work without teething troubles, from day one.”
Kim Pennington, VMC’s UK Sales Manager, takes up the story. “Being brought in during the refurbishment process was a distinct advantage,” she says. “We were able to work very closely with Stace LLP, the project managers, in such a way that the wiring of the Metro system could be integrated into the fabric of the building – ‘plumbed in’, if you like. The extent to which we collaborated with Stace LLP, poring over technical drawings and installation diagrams, was typical of VMC. A consequence of that partnership was that we delivered the equipment to site well in advance of the ‘go-live’.”
As word of the innovative system was communicated to BDO Stoy Hayward staff, many of them expressed a degree of trepidation. At this point, VMC’s City Support team was invited in. “They were on site very early,” Kim says, “and because of the nature of the system, we had to deliver a comprehensive training package to encompass not only staff in the magnificent catering facility, as you’d expect with a cashless system, but also security staff, because part of the cards’ functionality is access control.”
Generally, it’s human nature to be averse to change, or at least be wary of it, and the members of staff who would be everyday users of the system were no exception. Once again, VMC came into their own, implementing communication and training strategies that succeeded in soothing worried minds. “The ultimate goal was to sell the benefits of the Metro system to the employees”, Kim explained. “In order to achieve that outcome BDO wanted to maximise staff facilities. For instance, loaders (devices to enable the cards to be loaded with money) were installed that could accept cash, credit and debit cards and even Internet top-ups. On top of that, the company enabled payroll deduction.”
On ‘go-live’ day, any remaining doubts the staff may have harboured were dashed. The most obvious benefit was in queuing time. Demand for the state-of-the-art restaurant was high; however, as VMC’s research shows, cashless payment meant that five people could be served in the time a cash system took to serve one and till bottlenecks were instantly a thing of the past. There are hygiene benefits too: removing cash handling from catering staff avoids infections being communicated. “BDO gave all staff £5 credit to start them off and I’m delighted to say that it’s been plain sailing ever since” Kim said.
Andrew Jenkins concurs: “The system is delivering exactly what we wanted and expected,” he said. “It allows us to manage staff benefits, for instance we provide a free-issue breakfast for all staff. We can adopt any number of purse schemes, allowing us to apply different tariffs for staff, contractors, guests and so on. The system works for visitor security too. It’s true to say that VMC have exceeded our expectations. They have never compromised on the level of service they have provided and they have demonstrated a genuine enthusiasm for the system that has been transmitted to our staff. Generally, our move to cashless has worked well. Really, really well.”