Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council

Through its work with Phoenix and Microsoft, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council has successfully adapted to the demands of the modern workplace, embracing a hybrid working culture while leveraging Microsoft Viva Insights to support the wellbeing of its employees.

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council is the local authority for Redcar and Cleveland. It’s 2,000-strong workforce serves a community of over 136,000 residents across 94 square miles, providing the full range of local government services from education and transport, through to planning, social services, and refuse collection.


After the COVID-19 pandemic, the council began rethinking its approach to work. Deploying Microsoft Viva Insights was intended to improve efficiency and positively change work experiences for its employees.

Operating with a relatively modest IT team of 50, the council faced the daunting task of adapting to the evolving work landscape and changing employee expectations. The Council’s response was to embrace a hybrid working model for the majority of its employees. As a result, over 60% of its workforce are now defined as hybrid workers, typically working no more than two or three days in the office each week.

The council approached Phoenix with a broad goal: to support wellbeing and prevent burnout among its now predominantly hybrid workforce. It recognised the need for a holistic, software and services-based approach that could enhance collaboration, productivity, and employee wellbeing in a hybrid work environment. Understanding that the intersection of technology and human resources would be vital for the project’s success, Anthony Smith, Project and Customer Manager at Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council sought the collaboration of the council’s HR department for the project.


Phoenix recommended Microsoft Viva Insights, a productivity tool within Microsoft 365 which highlights patterns in an employee’s working schedule and suggests ways to work smarter and improve work/ life balance. Best described as a ‘fitness tracker for work,’ Viva Insights provides a range of employee experience features, insights, and analysis tools, which work together to improve employee productivity, wellbeing, and effectiveness. The service is primarily accessed through Microsoft Teams, the Viva Insights website, and an Outlook plugin.

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, in collaboration with Phoenix, started their Viva Insights journey with a pilot. The pilot began with a range of assessments of the Council’s Microsoft 365 data, including a wellbeing assessment and evaluations of the Council’s working practices. The assessments revealed potential burnout hotspots, primarily stemming from after-hours collaboration and lengthy regular meetings. In response, Phoenix provided end-user training targeted at these specific groups and the wider user base.


Feedback from users was overwhelmingly positive, with more than 450 users actively engaging with the Viva Insights app in the week following the training, compared to the previous week’s 43. This surge in usage has remained consistent, highlighting the significant impact of the initiative. Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council was impressed with the collaboration, which has led to further exploration of Viva-related initiatives with Phoenix.

By offering both personal and management-level data, Viva Insights became a transformative tool for the council. The personal insights feature, available for free with their existing Microsoft 365 licence, empowered employees to plan their working days effectively. A range of benefits emerged from the deployment:

Wellbeing events

The platform facilitated the organisation of wellbeing events, such as “Wellness Wednesdays”, providing employees with resources and support for mental health and overall wellbeing

Enhanced employee trust

Viva Insights played a vital role in improving trust between managers and employees. By addressing the common misperception that people might not be working while remote, the platform helped to foster a greater sense of transparency

Growth through word-of-mouth

Positive feedback and word-of-mouth recommendations fuelled the popularity of Viva Insights within the Council. Training sessions effectively showcased the platform’s features, encouraging more employees to join and actively use the application

Disturbance notifications:

The platform notifies users if they’ve disturbed colleagues outside of regular work hours, fostering a culture of respect for personal time

Delayed email sending

Viva Insights encourages employees to delay the sending of emails when outside of work hours, contributing to a healthier work-life balance and shifting expectations for when responses are required

Focus time emphasis

Viva Insights emphasises the importance of focus time, encouraging employees to allocate dedicated periods for concentrated work

Virtual commute:

A standout feature, the virtual commute encourages remote employees to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life, building in downtime and contributing to an improved work-life balance

Out-of-hours alerts:

The platform flags when users are working outside of regular hours, enabling a proactive approach to prevent burnout

Educational initiatives

Roadshows, show-and-tell sessions, and drop-in sessions were conducted to educate the workforce about Viva Insights, ensuring widespread adoption and understanding


Many of the Viva Insights features are included within the Council’s existing Microsoft 365 licence, making it a very cost-effective solution for the council

“I’ve changed how I work. I think we’ve all changed as a result of this,” reflects Anthony Smith, Project and Customer Manager at Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council. “The deployment of Microsoft Viva Insights, coupled with the collaborative efforts of IT and HR, triggered a positive cultural shift within the organisation. By addressing challenges related to hybrid work and prioritizing employee wellbeing, the council has been able to embrace digital transformation while meeting the needs of our workforce.”

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s journey with Microsoft Viva Insights is a demonstration of the power of technology in shaping a more resilient, collaborative, and employee-centric workplace.

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