Oakwood Worldwide

Engaging mobile employees and making non-native English speakers a part of the corporate family

Since 1960, Oakwood has been a pioneer in the temporary housing industry and is the world’s leading provider of furnished and serviced corporate apartments and residences. With more than 25,000 locations throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and the Asia Pacific region, Oakwood offers housing and accommodations to meet the needs of businesses.

Oakwood specializes in housing solutions to companies’ needs of global mobility and relocation, intern housing, executive housing and training program lodging. Oakwood also provides online outsourced housing procurement, customer service, housekeeping services and corporate housing consulting services.


Oakwood employs a workforce responsible for servicing, cleaning and prepping apartments for corporate clients. “That workforce does not have email addresses, that doesn’t sit at a desk, and is not assigned computers,” said Kathleen Donnelly, Oakland training specialist.

These 350 employees infrequently interact with district managers. The managers has the responsibility of communicating corporate policy, news and procedures to the mobile workforce. Managers were tasked with posting new information in rooms where the mobile workforce might by chance see it.

This strategy had numerous communication deficits. Additionally, many of the employees are not native English speakers, and were excluded from company updates and training notices.

“The way we schedule their jobs is with a mobile phone,” Donnelly said. “We needed a vehicle to get them the same timely company announcements that everyone who has an email address were getting.”



Oakwood subscribed to a Train by Cell membership that included Text Messaging and Mobile Websites and met its need to more effectively — immediately and directly — communicate with mobile servicing employees.

Its training team now uses the Train by Cell mobile web authoring platform to publish safety and training information, which has led to increased engagement and more efficient production. Employees are able to access content directly instead of waiting for their managers to post it in public spaces in hopes the content is seen. The platform is also used for benefits open enrollment. Forms are available to download or complete through mobile sites powered by Train by Cell.

Donnelly has also initiated an engagement game with employees, where employees who answer questions on the mobile platform correctly are entered into drawings to win gift cards and other prizes.



Twelve months following adoption, those teams that were introduced to the service continue to use it regularly, and to great success.

“I’ve seen huge spikes in [engagement],” Donnelly said. “Before, we couldn’t communicate with employees directly. Now, I can publish those training guides directly to their phones.”

Employees are engaged with Donelly’s game using Train by Cell  mobile technology. Oakwood executives are very happy with the benefits of Train by Cell, and have begun preliminary research to expand services to other divisions. The training division is planning to expand its mobile learning in the future.

An equally important benefit of the Train by Cell service to Oakwood is the engagement of primarily Spanish-speaking employees, who are benefiting from materials now published in Spanish.

“For a big proportion of this population, Spanish is their preferred language. We publish in English and Spanish.”

“Our Spanish-speaking population felt removed from the organization,” Donnelly said. “Not being at a desk, they weren’t receiving company communication. They really feel like they’re a part of Oakwood now. That was a big win.”