Creating the perfect colleague experience

01 October 2019

Clare Bacchus is Global Lead Curated Experience at Barclays. We talk to her about what the bank is doing to create environments where colleagues know their needs are going to be met – whether it’s developing new ways to collaborate or organising stress-busting group classes. 

"In a nutshell, curated experiences are about giving colleagues the opportunity to bring their whole selves to the office, not just their work selves.”

Clare Bacchus has spent the last 20 years in the hospitality industry, finding out exactly what it is that drives people’s happiness and wellbeing. She is now applying those same principles at Barclays, where she is rolling out curated experiences across the bank’s world-class campuses.

“At Barclays, we’re taking a much more hospitality based approach to curated services,” she explains. “It’s really important that we create environments where colleagues feel fulfilled, during what can be a sizeable chunk of their daily lives.

“A lot of us fall prey to the same routine: we come in to work, stare at our screens for up to eight hours every day, have our lunch ‘al desk-o’, and then leave. But there are studies that show that taking a break from your desk – and building connections – can add to your productivity levels and have you feeling a greater sense of wellbeing. After all, it’s when you feel most like yourself that you get your best work done.”

Clare believes that by improving the relationship colleagues have with their workplace, and each other, their day-to-day lives can feel much more enjoyable. She says that by really thinking about what curated experiences do for colleagues, Barclays is ensuring that wellbeing is a constant priority.

Delivering the unexpected

“What would you typically expect from a large, global bank?” asks Clare. “You’d probably anticipate a rather sterile environment, with people going about their business but not really connecting. But Barclays is not your typical bank – we’re trying to deliver the unexpected.”

Over a year ago, Barclays established an innovative new campus in Whippany, New Jersey, US, which offers a highly curated experience to colleagues. But Whippany was only the beginning, with Barclays’ Pune, India, campus opening later this year, and a site in Glasgow, Scotland, due to open in 2020.

Whippany campus in New Jersey

Barclays’ Whippany campus in New Jersey

Colleagues describe these campuses as distinctly warm and welcoming. “You enter an environment that feels open, with a Hello Host greeting you before you’ve put your second foot through the door,” says Clare. “You won’t be faced with a security guard straight away; this doesn’t mean you’re less secure, it just means we’ve really thought about keeping you safe without making you feel like you’re going through airport security.

“You’d probably then be hit by the smell of artisanal coffee, or if it’s the afternoon, something sweet and freshly baked that’s harder to resist. And you’ll also begin to hear the hive of activity going on, from people walking to a yoga class, to the inspiring colleague stories being played on the large digital screens.

“Every step you take is about making you feel welcome and reassured. Within the first 30 seconds of being at a Barclays campus, you feel like you belong.” For Clare, it’s these “small, simple considerations that can have massive effects.”


Redefining how colleagues interact with the workplace

Aside from the various tailored activities, and extensive food and drink offering, the curated experience at Barclays is also about helping colleagues to be more proactive with the way they interact with their physical environment.

“We are trying to determine the true motivations and drivers of our workforce. A lot of the work we’ve done has involved conducting studies on the workplace behaviour of our colleagues. For example, by the numerous ‘World’s Best Mum’ mugs left on desks, you’d assume that colleagues sit in the same spot for the majority of their working day. However, our research has shown that they tend to move around a lot more than you’d think.”

Designed with this in mind, our global campuses champion new ways of working. As Clare explains, “The curated experience at Barclays is about helping colleagues understand how best to use the space around them, and collaborate effectively. For example, in some cases a pod might be more appropriate to use than a conference room. Alternatively, you might choose to have a meeting in the café, as opposed to the breakout area.


“Floor Hosts are available on each floor to help colleagues make these decisions.  It’s their job to immerse themselves on their assigned floor and understand colleagues’ needs and habits, helping them to be more productive. From understanding what time people come in every morning, to where exactly they hang up their coats – floor hosts ensure that colleagues have a smooth, seamless experience at work.”

Clare says an important aspect of her team’s work is to listen to colleagues on an ongoing basis, so that their evolving needs can be considered in the development of every service, amenity and new way of working.

“In our Glasgow campus, we’ve maintained a continuous conversation with our colleagues throughout the planning process,” she says. “We’ve held workshops and drop-in sessions, and answered every single one of the hundreds of questions that have come in.

“We don’t create our strategy in the dark; we develop it completely out in the open, moulded by what our colleagues are telling us. We can’t create the best services for our colleagues without first putting ourselves in their shoes.

“Ultimately, we are striving to create industry-defining solutions that get colleagues a little more excited about coming in to work every day.”