What happens when you mix suits and t-shirts?


Great to read such an enlightened piece recognising that not everyone wants to work the same way - and to find a company who embraces and values the differences.

Read More Vanessa Landreneau
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How to dial up your creative credentials with a digital start-up approach while staying true to your core values

We’re in the midst of one of the greatest upheavals in the workplace since the industrial revolution. Today organisations of every size face having to rethink their approach to recruitment and retention in order to compete for talent in new positions that did not exist five years ago.

With a high demand for digital skills, and the current talent supply limited, hiring good people and keeping them happy can mean rethinking the entire employee experience.

Avanade is no different. As a technology services provider and consultancy, with aspirations to become the leading digital innovator, it is absolutely essential that we have the right mix of traditional and emerging skills in place to help us advise and inspire our clients.

New opportunities

One of the major areas of growth for Avanade is in helping clients create new digital experiences, whether helping them use data to understand customers better, or building intuitive websites that make the overall customer experience more attractive. Inevitably this puts us in competition with digital agencies, the kind one frequently associates with young Millennials, craft beer deliveries and office ping-pong competitions.

A different world

Avanade is a friendly, diverse and inclusive environment with an approachable leadership team – which are all features that you would expect in a modern workplace. However, the company is also highly professional, relatively risk averse and has super high standards with a need to substantiate everything we do.

These attributes are a factor in the work we do. Our clients value a calm head and pragmatic advice. But it creates a different working environment to the vibrant, noisy and creative space one typically associates with a digital agency.

Replicating an agency feel

We have had to examine how we position Avanade as an attractive alternative to these specialist agencies. How do we replicate the creative buzz of a digital agency in our organisation, while preserving our existing corporate culture and values? How do we attract new talent without alienating our core workforce?

It was with these questions in mind that late last year Avanade launched its first European Digital Studio in London. The idea behind the Digital Studio is to create a dedicated space where digital experts across a range of disciplines can collaborate on cutting-edge projects that will inspire and guide our clients.

Appealing to talent

Employees we are looking to recruit for the Digital Studio are often, but not always, in their twenties and thirties. Some may be returning from maternity leave or a career break or even thinking about winding down; it’s their skills and aptitudes we are interested in. Regardless of their age they’re tech-savvy and expect to have access to the latest technologies at work. They’re probably used to flexible working hours, a very flat management structure, and blurred lines between their work and social lives.

Attracting the right talent means more than just chucking a few bean bags in the corner and relaxing the dress code. It’s about putting in place the right infrastructure to satisfy these and other emerging preferences, making sure to bring the rest of the organisation along on the journey.

Flexibility is key

Part of that process is about recognising that not everyone wants to work in the same way and being able to accommodate a range of work styles. For example, some staff in the Digital Studio like to arrive later and then leave later. This means being flexible in terms of how we manage their working day, with greater provision for flexible working hours and remote working.

Where people are based, how they commute and communicate, who they work with are all areas that are being redefined, or perhaps becoming less defined. We hope that this ultimately helps us tap into more diverse workforces, including more working mums.

We’ve also had to consider how we accommodate cultural differences when it comes to approaching tasks. The ‘fail fast’ mentality favoured by digital companies to foster creativity represents a big change to Avanade’s traditionally risk-averse culture. But as we adjust to the changes taking place in the technology world it’s something we know we need to explore and embrace.

A positive influence

We’ve located the Digital Studio alongside our more traditional work environment with the expectation that it will permeate through to the rest of the office. The physical presence of the Digital Studio and the virtual impact of a more diverse workforce in terms of creativity, outcome and customer focus has already started to inspire and drive a more creative approach across the business. The two environments dovetail nicely, adding an extra dimension to what we already have.

Belinda Macaulay is HR director at Avanade UK


Great to read such an enlightened piece recognising that not everyone wants to work the same way - and to find a company who embraces and values the differences.

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