5 minutes with... Rachel Xavier

By Lou Shackleton | 06/05/2019

Rachel Xavier

Meet Rachel - Service Designer at Cancer Research UK, who will be speaking at Camp Digital 2019. We spoke with her about how the rise of technology influenced the way we work now and she told us her biggest achievements of working with the Stand Up to Cancer team. 

At Camp Digital, you’ll be discussing the changing workplace and the future of work. Why is this important and what can the audience expect?

Advances in Technology have transformed the way we interact with people and companies, how we buy new things and how we learn. It’s also had a massive impact on the workplace and our expectations for where, how and when we work, and the scale in which we collaborate.

In the days before laptops, the internet, and mobile phones, workplaces created a very static working environment. Staff became comfortable with the stability of travelling to the same office every day, sitting at the same desk, and switching on a computer that doesn’t move from its stationary location. So, people spent most of their days in face to face meetings, because there was no other way to work together.

Thanks to advances in technology and connectivity, change started to happen. We can now work around family commitments or when we’re most productive, and as a result, organisations retain amazing talent and attract a new workforce who couldn’t easily work within previous conditions, such as working parents, like myself.

Cancer Research UK has recognised this global shift and launched a programme called Future of Work with the aim of building a working environment that is flexible, collaborative and adaptive. All things that we believe work together to build a 21st Century working environment.

During my talk at Camp Digital, I’ll take the audience through our test and learn approach to building this 21st Century environment at Cancer Research UK. From the research that underpins our understanding of the changing workplace, our approach to removing the technical barriers and, most importantly, how we’re exploring different ways to change the culture and embrace new ways of working across the whole organisation.

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced as a founding member of the Service Design team at Cancer Research UK? And your biggest achievements?

One of the biggest challenges of any new team is establishing yourself, building the trust of teams around you and having impact quickly. In an environment where embracing Lean and Agile principles in everything we do was new, and in some cases unheard of, the Service Design team needed to educate the rest of the charity on the benefits of this approach. We set ourselves a target of having the biggest impact possible by challenging teams to develop products and services in a different way and upskilling the organisation in both soft and hard ‘digital’ skills.

One of my biggest achievements is with the Stand Up To Cancer team. As one of the first pieces of work that I lead, we started from a position of broken trust, decision making that wasn’t led by user insight and a strong command and control culture. Now the team are empowered to make user-centered decisions, from the marketing right through to website development. The team now run their own Design Sprints, create lean testable prototypes and write value-driven user stories for the Stand Up To Cancer website.

What digital breakthroughs are you most excited to see in the future?

I think we’re just scratching the surface of breaking down the cultural barriers to a truly flexible way of working. I'm really interested in the changes that workplaces will embrace and the impact that this will have on a macro level. For example, if organisations embrace flexible working to its full potential, we may start to see property searchers feeling less burdened to find a home with an easy commute to work. And the demand on public transport, during rush hour may decrease as employees work from locations more convenient for them or during working hours that do not resemble the standard 9-5pm.

What are you most looking forward to at Camp Digital?

I'm looking forward to meeting others who are on a similar journey in their organisation. It's easy to get stuck into the day to day of the work but it's important to stop, listen and learn from others to understand how they’d approach the same problems.

Rachel's Camp Digital talk, "The Changing Workplace" will be at 13:45 on Wednesday 12th June. For more information or to book tickets, head on over to the Camp Digital website.