A small team of Capgemini consultants is spending three days of every week working in a Surry Hills warehouse, complete with beanbags, posters, a netball hoop and various start-ups.
The four-person Digital Transformation team was formed by the IT consultancy behemoth in January as part of a wider worldwide enterprise that counts Burberry and Carrefour among its clients. It is led by Ben Gilchriest and is the first to have moved into a public co-working space, albeit to a limited extent.
Co-working spaces are typically used by small startups to give them space to develop their ideas in an area physically shared with other entrepreneurs. The model is intended to help with creativity and problem-solving, as well as encouraging collaboration between people starting their own businesses.
“We don’t want to cut cords [with the rest of Capgemini],” he told Business Insider. “It’s not about creating a separate culture; it’s about bringing the two together. Part of our role is taking that [new culture] back to the 1000 or so back in the office.”
Gilchriest and teammates Mani Thiru, Mark Anderson and Jean-Baptiste Vincent spend three days a week in Pollenizer’s Hive, and two days back in Capgemini’s headquarters in the Sydney CBD.
The team is tasked with learning about new workplace practices and ideas to support it bringing clients – and the 1000-plus-person Capgemini Australia – into the digital age.
Its operating model is assessed and renewed quarterly; Gilchriest expects to be co-working until the end of this year at least.
“We’ve got an office in the city, so the value in paying for another location has to be there,” Gilchriest says, “The business case was around learning new things.
“Inherently, we’ve always known that you need a different way of working when it comes to digital than in the past.”
Here are Capgemini’s top 5 highlights from the Hive:
1. Bring ideas to life quickly
The Digital Transformation team has adopted a faster, more iterative approach to projects. Vincent says it has adopted a new “operating rhythm” with team members providing weekly updates on the research, events, outreach and partnerships they are working on.
2. A new definition of success
Because projects are smaller and quicker, the team has become “more comfortable with failure”. According to Vincent, working among start-ups has “reinforced a different mindset around what success means, what failure means and how they are linked together”.
3. Do things that matter
Working alongside cash-strapped start-ups has encouraged Capgemini to set goals more carefully. Gilchriest says the team has become more focused and members “don’t do things that don’t add value”.
4. Talk to each other
Every Friday, Pollenizer start-ups gather around two TVs to talk about what they’ve been working on and get direct, open feedback on their ideas. “You can take the principle and apply it to patches of a bigger organisation,” Gilchriest says, adding that social networking software can help.
Capgemini began using Yammer in Europe about 5 years ago and in Australia 2 years ago. Gilchriest says Australian staff took about a year to embrace the internal social network, which now facilitates a great deal of collaboration globally.
5. The value of networking
Co-working has exposed the team to new technologies, and “plenty of interesting people”, Vincent says. “When you have so much knowledge internally, the risk is to become too insular and the perspective is narrowed as a result,” Gilchriest adds.
Working in the Hive also has strengthened Capgemini’s relationship with Pollenizer start-up WooBoard, which aims to encourage people to recognise the good work of their colleagues.
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