Rachel  Xavier 

Rachel is a Service Designer at Cancer Research UK who has a keen interest in organisational culture and behavioural change.
Through her work, Rachel has successfully championed a new way of delivering digital services for Stand Up To Cancer, driving a behavioural change towards user-centricity in a Lean and Agile way.

As a founding member of the Service Design team, Rachel has recruited and coached her team members to embrace new ways of working, and to build the resilience needed with any transformation programme.

Now turning her attention to the wider impact of user-centered thinking and service design, Rachel is leading on an organisation-wide cultural transformation programme, aimed at building a working environment that is flexible, collaborative and adaptive.

The Changing Workplace – Future of Work, CRUK

The workplace is changing. Thanks to advances in technology the world has become a more networked and collaborative environment. At Cancer Research UK we’ve recognised the importance of building a working environment that supports this world-wide shift.

This means making changes across the hardware and software we use. But also, changes to our ways of working. Our culture and behaviour. Our "How we do things around here” mindset. The Future of Work programme at Cancer Research UK aims to build an environment that is flexible, collaborative and adaptive.

We believe by experimenting across these 3 areas, we'll propel our organisation towards building a working environment for the 21st Century.

Thanks to advances in technology, the world is in constant change the way we interact with family and buy products and services and consume content has all changed thanks to technology and the workplace is no exception in the days before laptops, the internet and the mobile phone, workplaces were ‑‑ created a very static working environment.  People got used to going to the same office, sitting at the same desk, switching on the same computer that never moves from its location and spending most of the day in face‑to‑face meetings because that was the only way we could work together.  Thanks to technology and greater connectivity, change started to happen.  We can now work around family commitments, or at times when we're most protective.  And as a result, organizations can retain amazing talent and attract new workforce that couldn't easily work under these conditions like working parents like myself.  Cancer Research UK has recognized this shift and have created a program to address this when we move to our head office this year.  So this is our opportunity to respond. 


The vision for the future of work program, was to understand the changing workplace and the challenges that exist at Cancer Research UK and remove the barriers to working in a flexible, collaborative, adaptive and productive way.  All attributes that we believe work together for an organization that needs to thrive in the 21st century way of working.  The program was designed to address the full stack of change right through to our cultures and behaviors, the way we doing things around here.  And then when we use words like "adaptive" it's important that we explain what we mean.  In my experience, language is often the biggest barrier to change.  So it's really important that we use words that make sense and people could understand.  Because they are core to the program that we're running so flexible this is having the technology and the environment and the policy to share and work in a different location. 


Regardless of whether that's working from home or whether that's working in a different location within the office.  Collaborative.  This is having the tools and the environment to share, cocreate, and work on projects together.  Adaptive.  This is building the willingness and the resilience in the organization to try new things, learn from those experiences and actively make change to improve ourselves, our processes and the way that we work as well as how the program is run and predictive.  We believe if we build an environment that is flexible, collaborative and adaptive we will work on things that make more sense to the variety and add more value to the work that we want to do.  It was really important to the program that the culture and behavioral change that we wanted to see had the same level as importance as the environment and the hardware changes that we were doing.  So the things that are more easy seen and understood, the tangible things.  So the design of the program reflected this.  We broke the program down into three ways of activity to reflect the fact that behavior change is just as important.  The first wave of activity is aimed at giving the tools for change to staff.  So this included rolling out laptops to staff across the organization, and ensuring that anyone can work from a flexible location.  So they don't always have to be in the office.  They can move around.  We adopted cloud‑based software in our case Microsoft Office 365 to enable staff to access files and folders regardless of their location.  We upgraded to Skype enterprise voice removing the reliance on traditional desk phones so staff can communicate regardless of where they are whether in the building or outside.  And we introduced Test 2 Learn as our methodology in the program.  And we started out with initial experiments that looked at some of the ‑‑ our initial assumptions.  So we sent laptops to regional workers because we have the assumption that staff could self serve their own setup.  And we also usability tested meeting room equipment that we wanted to make a decision on for our head office move in Stratford.  Wave two which is the wave that I lead on and the one I'm most excited about is exploring new ways of working. 


Now that we've removed to technology barriers you've got the tools to change, now let's explore.  And in this wave we invested in some of the culture barriers.  We've created organizational plans that allow anyone at CRUK to test and improve ways of working and we're analyzing the insights guard ‑‑ gathered across the organization. 


And then wave three is about turning all the insight from the trials that we are running at the moment into our new normal.  And this is presenting back to the organization all the of the insights that gather for the trials across the organization.  We're going to create, redesign, and improve our processes, our guidances, our HR policies, to reflect the insights that's been gathered.  And designing the right processes for continuous learning.  We're really conscious that the insight gathered during this trial period will become old as soon as the program finishes so we need to have the staff equipped with the right resources to allow anyone in the organization to continuously learn and improve on our culture.  The engines and specialist knowledge are the skills and capabilities that we can put on.  We have governance which oversees all elements of the program, coordinates or reporting.  We have comms which owns the whole narrative of both the future of work program and our move to Stratford ensuring all the people have the right information they need in order to make the right decisions and run their trials. 


We have Test 2 Learn which is an engine I lead on and this drives the experimentation.  This gives the staff the right resources and capabilities to run their own trial as well as encouraging the program itself to test on learn on ourselves.  We have knowledge which coordinates our information gathering, helps make sense of the data coming back and plays us back to the organization.  Technology change, make sure that we've defined and refine our processes, our technology processes.  We have HR employee services who own and write our HR policies and supports the organization in the cowriting of the iterations of those policies. 


And we have learning and development.  And they open the ‑‑ own the technology training in the tools that we are using across the organization. 


And we have behavioral scientists at Cancer Research UK who are supporting with the measurement of behavior change. 


So to delve a bit more deeper into wave two specifically, we started our journey with starting to understand where we are as an organization, the challenges that we face, in working in a flexible, collaborative and adaptive way.  In order to do this, we ran face‑to‑face workshops, Skype meetings, to gather insights across the entire organization.  And we ran sessions called wall of challenges which delves a bit deeper into department specific challenges.  We conducted research to see what others are doing in this space.  We also had to understand the needs from the Stratford move perspective that we saw promised or needed to have in order for our move to the new building to be successful.  And we also worked alongside our executive board to understand if there was anything that they wanted to address in this opportunity of change we analyze all that data and bog that down into six organizational themes.  Now we're in the middle of our journey which the test to learn output.  This sort of the Test 2 Learn journey that we have here and this is where we have designed self‑serve trials that any member of staff at Cancer Research UK can run their own trial understand what works and what doesn't.


And feed their learnings back into the future of work program.  And then in September of this year, we will transition into wave three which is taking all of those insights and redesign and design our processes, our HR policies and guidance.  So the six themes we're dealing with in future of wave work is activity based work.  Online tools.  File management and reducing paper.  Each theme is led by a representative at future of work who works alongside a selected community of department change leads across the organization and they're representatives of their team and it's their responsibility to cascade information about their theme to run their trial to gather the insights and to feed that back into the future of work team.  The future of work theme lead is responsible to ensure that the department change lead has everything they need to run their trial so that can be answering questions, creating resources, giving guidance and sometimes going into team meetings and running workshops with them but it's essentially their resource, their help to get their trial up and running.  So to go into a bit more detail into each one of these themes, flexible working, our challenge that came out of research was there's a lack of consistency across the organization about what is and what isn't culturally allowed.  We have at Cancer Research UK both formal and informal ways of working and the flexible working is a contract change that you want to make and that might be reducing your hours down to part‑time or changing your base location to working from home.  This was well understood by staff.  People knew what they wanted to do.  They understood the processes.  It was the informal flexible working that was less clear and less ‑‑ and less consistent across the organization.  And this was our focus for future of work.  The informal flexible working enables staff to flex their working location or their hours so they start and end time to find a better work life balance for them.  And it means that they can work in a time that is most productive for them both benefitting staff and the organization.  The reason for this challenge is mainly because the decision to allow that level of flexibility was left to the discretion of managers.  And the flexible working policy essentially dealt with the legalities of the flexible work and not necessarily the cultural impacts of decisions around flexible working.  So there was a need to support managers to lead their team by outcomes and not presenteeism.  So our approach for flexible working, we focus primarily on educating and enabling the organization to one of three month trials to test out flexible working.  HR refreshed the flexible working policy and we put that out into the organization as a three month trial.  We created a managers toolkit which went into more details about how managers can run a team.  We created a short video for managers which introduced all the resources available to them to run their three month trial.  But more importantly it had the executive director.  It was really important to us predominantly technology team that we had the backing of HR, and we were seen to have the backing of HR when dealing with a topic like flexible working.  We created an experiment planning training guide in the form of a one hour workshop for anybody to be able to run.

It had a facilitator's guide so they knew exactly what they needed to do step by step and ensured any head, manager or director to understand how their team works now.  Some of the things they want to trial, and set metrics in place to measure its success.  Now we're in the trial period.  We run monthly online drop in sessions for anyone to ask a question about flexible working.  And these are led mainly by HR.  And we often attend meetings to support with the setting up of those trials or supporting any questions that come out.  For activity based working I guess the challenge for us was collaboration was built very much into the heart of the building in Stratford, there was more physical space to be working together. 


And less fixed desk locations but in reality, culturally we just weren't ready for this shift.  We weren't ready for hot‑desking and not ready for true collaboration so what we focused on was changing the perception around meeting rooms because there was a really strong meeting room culture at Cancer Research UK and we challenged ourselves to look at whether we actually need a meeting room or whether we just need a space.  As well as educating and enabling staff to use these type of spaces.  We worked along HR to write a new policy to offer staff guidance on the types of spaces available, how to use them, as well as the health and safety issues around each space.  Some of the things that were included in that policy was not taking a desk when you're in meetings all day or beach towelling we like to call it.  Or using a quiet space when you want to do focus work instead of sitting in the office, you know, open planned office with loads and loads of noise.  Included in the activity based working policy was a clear desk policy ensuring staff can feel comfortable to sit at any desk and not feeling like they're intruding on someone else's home with pictures of dogs and children and all sorts.  There are exceptions to this rule.  There are jobs that don't lend itself well to activity based working.  For people that work at an IT help desk.  We are looking at a subsection of the entire workforce at Cancer Research UK as part of wave one we built a collaboration space in our office that looks similar to the type of space we would have in Stratford and that was to provide different working locations for people to work within the office.  So they can bring to life their trials in a real sort of way.  So at the moment we're testing the comprehension of that policy as well as implementing those principles to understand what works, what doesn't so we can change and iterate that policy ahead of our move to Stratford.  Meeting etiquette.  Now our challenge with this we heard through research was people were really struggling to dial in on meetings and having really poor meeting conditions.  So we heard from staff that people were forgotten on the phone or they were not included when there was face‑to‑face or post its all over the walls.  There's no way for them to interact.  Or worse they were sitting on a Skype call waiting to be dialled into a meeting only to give up.  We also had the assumption that as more people work flexibly this problem will scale and become an organizational wide issue so meeting etiquette started as Skype etiquette.  To have an effective Skype meeting, what you need to do before, during and after your meeting.  And this was posted in every meeting room with a phone across the building.  But as the new technology started rolling out, we started to see some really new and interesting behaviors, like people being on BBC News in a meeting.  So we had to expand this theme to look at meeting etiquette face‑to‑face. 


Meeting etiquette in collaborating spaces as well as online meetings.  So we rebranded.  We created three different guidance.  We cascaded that information.  And now we're in the process of teams now testing the principles over a three month period and every month we are gathering results from those trials and we're now in our third iteration of that policy.  Online tools so the challenge we had was introducing Microsoft Office 365 and we have have other tools such as Trello, Slack.  There's all of them.  People were really, really unclear as to what tools they should use when and how best to use those tools which presented an opportunity to look at a full stack of offering that we have at Cancer Research UK.  Understand what works and what doesn't work for the types of roles that we have that at the charity we focus on each staff and enable them to run tests on this software in a safe environment. 


To ensure that they don't break anything.  And they can feel comfortable with a view to at the end of wave two we can make a recommendation back to the organization, backed up by data to say, this is the tool that you should be using for this type of job.  And this is how you can use it.  The online tools theme is broken down into three prongs.  We have self‑serve, we have as in plus and we have bespoke trials.  The self‑serve section is a group of software tools that we believe any staff can pick up without having to go to a training session. 


You can sort of just pick them up and learn.  Things like Microsoft Whiteboard or Microsoft OneNote for individual use.  We have provide some guidance which live on our future of work SharePoint site on how to set these tools up and how to use them.  As is plus is an extension of training that was already available by learning and development.  We created in depth training sessions that's run on Skype.  For each tool.  And we have also created a tool selector so staff can select what tool best meets their challenge and attend that session.  So they don't have to attend sessions for every single tool.


They can choose which one they want to go to.  We've created sand pits in these tools to test all the functionality they like without fear of breaking something or changing something permanent.  And then the bespoke trials, this section focuses more on department specific challenges that cannot be solved by picking up a new tool or training an attending session so staff are encouraged to submit their challenge to future of work which is analyzed by us.  And then we build a small team around that challenge to help them run their own trial.  File management so we heard through research that staff cannot find their files and folders.  And that is a complete mess.  We got files from 1999.  They cannot find it.  It's a complete mess.  And we know that being able to access files and folders from a flexible location is core to us being ‑‑ achieving our vision.  So our approach really was not to design this into a trial.  Because we actually had another project looking at shifting our network drives over to shared cloud location.  So our role in future of work was to get the prep work done so we built a working group across the organization of department change leads and it's their responsibility to audit ‑‑ fun job, audit all the files we have at Cancer Research UK and design a file structure for staff to more easily be able to access their files and folders regardless of their location.  And reducing paper.  So this didn't really come out of research but it's Cancer Research UK's ambition to reduce the amount of people we use and with the introduction of new software tools this is a really good opportunity for us to look at how much paper we're using and use the tools up second of printing. 


Tools like Microsoft OneNote for note taking.  So every month we present each department with stats on how much printing they're making and with the support of a sustainability coordinator, we help them to look at ways in which they can actually reduce the amount of paper that they're doing, based on real stats.  So measuring behavior.  So measurement is key to any program to understand whether it's successful or not and for future of work, we need to make the trials, we need you to measure our approach, and we also needed to measure the behavior and culture change and in order to do this we have different layers of measurement.  We have the measurement of large‑scale all wide benefits.  We have the measurements of the six themes which I've just gone through.  And we also have behavioral change metrics.  For the large‑scale organization wide benefits these were big change themes that the program could contribute to but couldn't solely own responsibility for things like increased technical skills and confidence.  Increased connection and increased collaboration within and with external partners.  Tasks and actions being managed more efficiently and effectively.  Documents being better organized.  Decisions being made through test and learn rather than through the highest paid person in the room.  Better use of physical workspace.  And meetings using Skype are more inclusive and productive.  These large‑scale benefits the data in which we're collecting for this mainly were through surveys that are already existed.  So at Cancer Research UK we have a staff engagement survey and we are measuring these metrics these benefits through that.  So the six theme ‑‑ organizational themes we use a framework called heart. 


Which was designed by three folks from Google's research team and the idea of the heart framework really is to deliver a series of user centered metrics to support the measurement of user experience on a larger scale.  So for each theme we decided the goal, the signal and the metric and the structure for the hard framework is what you can see on the screen now we have happiness which is the attitude or satisfaction.  We have the measurement of people's interaction which is engagement.  The measurement of new users over a certain amount of time which is adoption and the success of completion which is task success.  And to measure behavior we're using the behavior change wheel from the book behavior change wheel a guide to design and interventions.  We are using this framework as a way of bringing together the large‑scale benefits of six themes metrics into a format where we can see each element of the program contribute into our overall aim.  So from my left to right, the ultimate goal for future of work is to create a working environment that's flexible, collaborative, adaptive and productive.  And then moving in, we have the large‑scale organization wide benefits that are there.  And then we have the benefits which I have gone through today.  And you can see how they feed into each stage of the process.  And then the lighter boxes are the actual behavior change wheel.  So we have the automatic motivation, which is the automatic emotional reactions of people, the desires, the reflex responses, we have the opportunity which is the physical, the social opportunity awarded by social cultural norms or the environment.  We have the reflective motivation which is the self‑conscience intentions or plans or beliefs or what's good and what's bad and then we have capability which is the psychological and physical skill or capability.  So for us, this program is a work ‑‑ this framework is a work in progress.  And we're being ‑‑ so we've been supported by behavioral scientists to get this right.  And that's getting the information in each section right as well as the language.  Because once we start sharing this with people we want to make sure that it doesn't freak anyone out.  They can understand it and it makes sense to everybody.  So we're still halfway through our journey.  But we have started to see some really great results.  But we've also faced a number of challenges along the way.  Some of the challenges that we faced we've had some reluctance from some peoples to actually get involved or engage with all of the themes.  Although we encourage team to take on themes that are a higher priority for them, the reality is there's some themes that we need to nail.  There's some targets we need to have in place before we move to Stratford so we're considering changing tact at the moment around some of the themes that need to be achieved before and after we move.  The speed of the program means things change all of the time.  We're learning through the test and learn trials but we're also testing and learning on ourselves.  So keeping up‑to‑date, ensuring everybody is on board and has all the information they need is a challenge for us.  And we use as much as possible a strong governance structure to allow that cascading of information.  Senior endorsement is not always there.  And it's not always consistent across the organization and that can sometimes slow us down with some of the themes that are bigger or not necessarily seen as a technology theme.  And getting the right message out to staff is a constant challenge.  Especially when things are changing all the time.  That's one that we're testing and learning on ourselves as well and reevaluating what's working and what's not.  And often the merging of methodology protecting a challenge at every stage and every meeting.  Quite often we have additional project management represent in a room.  And we have HR representing the room.


So we've got lots of different experiences, lots of different capabilities and methodologies trying to make this work and then present it back to an organization in a simple way that they can self‑serve and do the work themselves we started to see some great success as well.  We have seen the majority of the staff really enthused and some of the themes really resonate with them.  And it's almost like thank goodness somebody is tackling this for us.  And, which meant that having the department change leads in place and getting the trials up and running has not really been too much of a b ‑‑ barrier for us.  We have a whole directorate which is five departments across six themes. 


They've been running a trial for a month now and we're starting to see the results come through.  The bulk of the analysis will happen in the next couple of weeks and some of the data that we've seen come through so far is for activity base working people are understanding the policy which is really important because that was new for us.  We needed to make sure people understood it and we started to see people using different types of spaces across the organization.  For the different types of work that they're doing.  For flexible working, we have seen people feel that they have a much better work‑life balance and they are in more control of that. 


The challenge still though is the consistency and that's something we will hopefully address as more trial data start coming through.  For online tools we have 79 new Microsoft team sites created and these are test sites for people to mess around with, test the functionality and we've had some really great attendance in our training sessions and as I mentioned before with meeting etiquette we're now in our third iteration of that.  And some of the data that's been collected show collaboration across the organization has improved.  We've seen an 80% connectivity in ‑‑ increased connectivity within staff at Cancer Research UK and 60% reporting better connectivity with external partners.  We've seen 45% decrease in travel costs as connectivity is better so we have less reliance on having to be in a different location physically.  We have had a report of 65% of staff feeling less stressed and being more in control of their work‑life balance. 

And we've had staff reporting saving at least 24 minutes per day on average by having the new laptops so they're less stressed about setting themselves up or having issues technically with meeting rooms and setting themselves up to do their work effectively.  So what is next?  With the first set of trials kicking off and the trials going on until September, we are expecting to see greater increases and more data coming through and further iterations.  We're not just implementing a program or throwing out a new tool to use.  We are enabling every staff member to trial, build our culture and to ‑‑ with the whole aim of retaining talent and to build a more resilient organization we do all of this by making decisions.  It's important to do that so that three and four people survive cancer by 2034.  Our next big step is to build wave three.  And to enable every single staff member to continuously learn and that is to build the culture that is to build the processes.  And equip the staff to ensure that when this program closes, we will continuously test and we will continuous ly learn.  And all with the aim of changing our policies, changing our guidance, our processes, and essentially, the way we are at Cancer Research UK.

Any questions?
We do have plenty of time for questions so please do shout.  Your hand went up first, sir.
(Speaker far from mic).
So this is the question I get asked all the time.  So the policy itself doesn't give much sort of strict guidance I guess sort of what is acceptable and what is not in flexible working.  I think that's where the challenge is where people are sort of interpreted it in lots of different ways.  So for us we are ‑‑ our only boundary really is you can flex your start end and time and you can flex your working location.  Some people are very comfortable with that which means that they can start testing longer lunches or coming in at 10 o'clock and leaving at 6:00 or starting at 8:00 and finishing at 4:00.  Some people are more comfortable with that.  Others need a lot more guidance.  We've been working with some teams to actually create a more in depth policy for them which interprets the current policy to say that these are the things that we culturally accept within that department.
I'd love to know a bit more about the, I guess, just the (speaker far from mic).
Yeah, so the move to Stratford started out as we're closing down a building and building a new one but as that process started unfolding we started look at the different types of furniture and spaces that we want in the building and that then started opening us up to working collaborative and flexibly.  We also had a situation where staff was saying that they don't want to move to the new building unless the technology is right unless there's more flexibility and that cultural element kept us from closing down the building and building a new one.  My staff wanted to take that cultural staff and do it to test.  And rallied a group of people who really believed in that methodology.

To then take it from we need to create this environment that we know needs to be flexibility.  We know we need to work in a different way.  What does that mean to actually a program of work that we can deliver?  So that's where that came from.  Yep.
Do you have time zone things to deal with.
Not massively, no, we do have scientists that work with Cancer Research UK but this program is mainly with those in the UK so, no, we don't have to deal with that as much.
How do you manage both the tension and the expectation between the early riser and the late worker and do you have a policy that says we expect response within X number of hours?
So at the moment there is not a huge amount of expectation and that is exactly what these trials are here to do so that workshop, that flexible working workshop there's sort of like three areas.  You either are to do flex and you want to test it or I'm not doing flexible working and you want to try something new.

And at the end you create a team charter and say if I'm an early riser this is how I'm going to behave.  I'm going to put it in my diary.  If I am somebody who like to work late I will block some time in my diary between nine and ten because I will not be in the office.  Every department has a charter and the idea is to take all the learnings from those trials and figure out, right, as an organization, what do we need to do with this know?  We got a bunch of people that start at 8:00.  A bunch of people that start at 10:00 what do we need to do to be productive.  Do we need to have a rule to say you block out your time 8:00‑10:00 that might be an outcome but it's up to the trials to tell us that.
(Speaker far from mic).
So we have a meeting room culture.  If I wanted to have a meeting with you, I would book a room.  And sometimes that results in us sitting in a 16 person meeting room because there's no other meeting rooms and then you have the poor person trying to book an external meeting and cannot find a room so changing the perception of it was based around the policy that we wrote.  Highlighting first I guess it was the education of highlighting that there are different spaces and that you don't have to have a meeting room if it's just two people or three people.  I think part of that was the technology as well.  So people were using meeting rooms because then they could project on a screen but with the new laptops now you can present just within the room.  And then the third thing was around building the collaboration space.  So that has different types of furniture within it so people could ‑‑ they don't have to use a meeting room, they can just sit on a sofa.  So I think by tackling those three areas that's how we sort of changed that meeting room culture.  We're not 100% there.  It's a journey.  And we'll see what comes out of the trials.  A short break and then we'll continue.
Thank you.