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Crafting Virgin Media’s authentic internal network

Episode 3

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Episode 3 – Virgin Media

Work Happy Podcast: Episode 3

Connecting with employees in a business environment can be approached in much the same way you would a customer, where authentic content with the audience at the heart of the conversation is paramount. Such is the approach taken at Virgin Media by their Internal Communications Director, Jess Lonsdale.

On episode 3 of ‘Work Happy’ Jess joins us to talk about the values at Virgin’s businesses that have kept her with the company for nearly 15 years, the evolution of their collaborative work through Office 365, and how the formula for a winning team requires attention to both “me” and “we”.

This episode covers

  • Overhauling Virgin Media’s approach to their intranet
  • Using MS Teams to vary Virgin’s communications channels
  • Importance of authenticity in content
  • Putting employees at the heart of comms like they would a customer
  • The “me” and “we” of having an effective team
  • Incorporating ‘welldoing’ into Jess’ outlook on Work Happy


Freedom in comms

“I started working in a much more corporate environment, and was working in that kind of environment, very suited and booted for a couple of years. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to work for Virgin, and genuinely it was like the shackles were off.”

Creating a narrative

“We set about creating a really clear narrative. I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek’s work, and I’m sure a number of people listening to this podcast will have seen the TED talks on the three golden circles – the ‘why’, the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. But I would also add a fourth one, which is ‘where’, because people also need to know where you’re going.”

Mixing channels

“We don’t have a very simple channel mix at all at Virgin Media as it is. It’s one of our big focus areas for the next year. We’ve now launched Microsoft Teams and the Office 365 suite, which is genuinely transforming our lives. Before 2021, we didn’t have that.”

Being authentic

“I don’t know if it’s about the channel, it’s probably more about content. The most important thing was authenticity. So the things that we have found most impactful are when we sent an email from one of our leaders, just their view of the world, so it was personal. It was authentic.”

Listening to feedback

“Our challenge at the moment is finding the optimum number of questions for feedback. You want to know everything, but people aren’t going to spend 5 minutes filling out a survey, or even click the link. So you want to know what’s the absolute minimum that you need to know in order to improve what you’re doing and to make sure that you get a representative sample of people actually filling it out.”

Introducing Microsoft

“That’s really where Microsoft suite so far has really helped us; it’s enabled us to connect across the business, irrespective of role, irrespective of level. Suddenly, it’s enabled people to connect really, really easily. And the game changer for us has been about collaborating on documents.”

Employees at the heart

“How do we make sure that we put the employee at the heart of our communication so that it’s easy, it’s simple, it’s really obvious and it’s all interconnected, rather than expecting them to go from place to place? You wouldn’t as a customer, so why should we expect our employees to be any different with how they consume content and how they access our tools?”

All about trust

“If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that you can trust people to get on with stuff and deliver amazing things from home, and presenteeism is not important. It’s about outcomes.”

'Me' and 'we'

“I like to think of ‘me’ and ‘we’. So what do I need in order for me to be able to play the role that I play, for us to be a winning team? So how do I show up and what is it that I need – and how, as a business, can you give me that in order for me to make sure that I am supporting and playing an outstanding role in a winning team.”

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