Work Unleashed: How Vistra Energy embraces a culture of change


Welcome to our Work Unleashed series: a collection of posts from Box executives and conversations with Box customers on navigating the "new normal" of work today. Here, you'll find insights and resources that enable your teams to do their best work, anywhere, anytime.

In just a few years, Vistra Energy has executed three significant acquisitions and more than doubled in size. Today, Vistra has about 5 million customers and operates around 50 generating sites, including nuclear power plants, the largest solar farm in the country, and, soon, one of the biggest battery installations in the world.

This model allays some of the risks of offering only wholesale or retail energy. As Eric Loyd, Sr. Director, Delivery Office, told us in a recent conversation, "It’s a position the company has strategically put in place, leveraged, and built upon."

It’s also a model that requires a lot of remote communication among various teams and with outside partners. Vistra was already invested in using cloud-based tools to connect its expanded network, so when COVID-19 came along, the company was fortunate to have many remote tools in place. 

A cloud-based approach to business

Any company built via M&A knows the hazard of “the hodgepodge effect” — when teams bring in all their favorite tools. Vistra’s initial shift to cloud content management came from the need to simplify and unify content-sharing. With a few teams already using it, Box became the central content platform, and over the past few years, Vistra has largely migrated its content to the cloud. “Share a Box link” has become a part of the company’s standard lexicon. 

Loyd’s team built an entire tech stack intentionally designed to work together. He says, “What we were really looking for was the best-of-breed providers that partnered with other providers for interoperability. The integration points Box had with Slack, Zoom, Office 365, and G Suite were icing on the cake. It’s a game changer to move between different platforms with Box as the hub.”

Technology put to the test

Technology can certainly enable agility under normal circumstances, but the true test is when circumstances suddenly shift, as they did recently with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Vistra is a diverse company with teams of all types spread out over North and Central America. For the most part, office employees could simply start working from home. "Early on,” says Loyd, “you could see the people who had already made the switch — the adopters. They Zoomed to their meetings and were off and running with their files on Box, able to collaborate the same way they always had.” They were productive on day 1 of the stay-at-home orders.

Quickly, Loyd’s team recognized the gap between those who had already adopted the relevant toolsets and those who had been sitting on the sidelines waiting. People who had shown little interest in cloud-based tools before, assuming they’d always be able to access content in the physical office, were now “coming out of the woodwork asking for help,” Loyd says. 

An increased appetite for change

While there were a few weeks of sorting through issues, all in all, the sudden shift to remote work has been a surprisingly smooth endeavor — one Loyd calls “a humanizing and personal experience for people.” It has also opened a lot of people’s eyes to what’s possible. People who once avoided remote work tools are suddenly some of the biggest advocates, pushing their own teams to adopt them. Loyd is keen to leverage that newfound confidence and apply it to Vistra’s roadmap for the future.

Because while the pandemic will eventually be behind us, Loyd predicts a hybrid mix of people doing more work virtually, even while in the office — using cloud-based tools to communicate in any physical environment. He says, “That perception of having to be in the office to be highly productive — that wall has obviously been taken down. Productivity looks very different for people going forward. Some permutation of this is the new normal.”

Watch the full session with Eric Loyd!