Britehouse makes SPACE for employee collaboration and communication

Purpose built app, baristas, and CSI sign language project to ease the integration of new employees following merger of Dimension Data Application Services with Britehouse.

In line with the Britehouse Group's innovation ethic and its leadership in applying digital and mobile technologies to the benefit of enterprise customers, it has launched an app known as Sharing Passion and Collaborative Energy (SPACE) that is designed to promote positive interaction among its employees.

The development of the app was driven by the acquisition by Dimension Data of the Britehouse Group, announced at the beginning of October, and the integration into Britehouse of the Dimension Data Application Services division. The merger of the two software development entities has immediately increased headcount at Britehouse from several hundred to well over a thousand.

"Adding hundreds of people overnight always calls for a significant strategic intervention focused on ensuring that one's corporate culture is not diluted and that all employees feel valued," says Scott Gibson, Group Executive, Digital Practice, Dimension Data. "In our particular case, our employees are our brand and, if they feel good, our brand does well."

"We know, however, that a top-down approach is the least effective way to grow staff self confidence and interaction. We chose a more natural process based on all the successful attributes of social media. The idea is to enable our employees to build the Britehouse community of their choice, founded on positive human values."

An employee who has gone beyond the call of duty in supporting customers or colleagues in any work circumstance is acknowledged by colleagues via a soft reward mechanism on a purpose built platform aligned to company values. The rewards can be redeemed as cups of coffee served by two baristas trained to international standards and employed at Britehouse's new coffee station.

"Normally, in the workplace, acknowledgement of excellence, kindness, interest, and co-operation is done via an e-mail by a boss or project leader to members of a team," says Gibson.

"SPACE, on the other hand, enables employees to recognise and thank one another – and on an entirely voluntary basis. The power of the connection is therefore much greater and longer lasting and should have the effect of building strong inter-employee relationships.

Because the SPACE process is digital, it can be monitored, analysed, and reported on in terms of desired outcomes.

In a typically organic way, Britehouse will also use the SPACE project to create employee awareness of sustainability concepts and as a corporate social investment project.

The products served at the coffee station, provided by Ciro as part of its ‘Blacksmith coffee movement', are organic, free trade, and relationship coffee blends that benefit everyone involved in the coffee value chain – including, in the SPACE project, Britehouse employees.

The Blacksmith movement is about social change and a platform for job creation – through the training and deployment in corporates and restaurants of baristas drawn from underprivileged communities.

Through the SPACE project, Britehouse is supporting sustainable coffee production and, by bringing corporate social responsibility in house, enabling all employees to be directly involved in CSI. Britehouse has employed a deaf barista and the menu board shows staff the sign language for each coffee type. Staff are encouraged to order this way and at regular intervals, Britehouse will post a sign language card at the coffee station and on the SPACE app, enabling employees to learn additional phrases over time and to practice them with the barista.

The app itself is part of its broader enterprise development focus, having been built by the Digital Application Centre for Entrepreneurs (DACE), a recipient of Britehouse support.

"We believe in ethical and empowering action at all the touchpoints between Britehouse and the society within which we function," says Britehouse CSI manager, Emmeline Bester. "So, SPACE is one more holistic way in which we can build and strengthen our corporate culture sustainably. The coffee connects us all more closely, building a collaborative culture, while it creates awareness among employees of what society needs in order to for it to nourish us all emotionally as well as financially."