Perspective with Anna Stables

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Anna Stables is the Digital Innovation Manager for Aviva, whose Digital Garage on Hoxton Square is shaking up the insurance industry. Since joining the business, Anna has curated a portfolio of experience with both diversity and depth, working at local and global level in the UK and Asia. She is now managing Aviva’s partnership with Founders Factory – setting up pilots with the cream of the start-up crop, and supporting the incubation of new businesses.

What is the current size of the workforce at the Digital Garage (and Aviva worldwide)?

120 workstations in the Garage – we are always full! Globally we’re c30k staff.

When did you move into the Garage?

We moved into the Garage in May 2015, though a small team worked in the building before the refurbishment. It’s worth mentioning that, off the back of the successes that we’ve had with the Garage, we’ve replicated the space elsewhere around the globe. We have very similar buildings in Singapore and Toronto, and have created pop-ups that have adopted the features and principles of our core Garages.

What is the size of the new workplace?

13,000 sq ft.

How long have you been in your role at Aviva?

I’ve been in my role for just under three years now.

What’s the best bit of your job?

It’s definitely meeting lots of interesting people from all sorts of backgrounds. From the European Space Agency, MIT, ex-Israeli military – the list goes on. And they’re all solving really big, impactful issues. It’s a really inspiring position to work in.

What is the skill you have used most since being in this role?

Networking! A key part of my role is connecting the start-ups I work with to the right people in the business. With so many employees, that can be difficult. Our business is global, multi-channel and products are managed and distributed by a number of different teams. I’ve developed a really broad network and strong stakeholder management skills.

What was the main objective behind your recent workplace transformation?

To create a work environment that encourages innovation and collaboration. We were inspired by the way that the tech giants and start-ups of Silicon Valley work – fast paced and collaborative, with a really genuine culture. We were creating a new digital business and this was going to be integral to its success. As an insurer, we’ve always had traditional corporate offices, so it was a big change!

What is the one thing you and the staff do differently since moving into the new space?

We’re so much more social and collaborative since the office change. The space is conducive to working together, enabling more informal and larger group meetings. We hold casual coffee catch-ups in our lounge area – an informal meeting space. On a Thursday, we now have regular ‘standups’, where the whole office comes together to hear project updates and business news. Downstairs we can now hold workshops and even conferences in our event space.

What does the term wellbeing mean to you?

At Aviva, our staff wellbeing is a real focus for us. A healthy and happy workforce is so important when it comes to retention and performance. We’re really utilising the space at the Garage to deliver our wellbeing programme. We offer both physical and mental health sessions, including yoga, bootcamp and spin, as well as 1-2-1 sessions with a qualified mental fitness coach through our partners, Sanctus.

Aviva Digital Garage, London
Aviva Digital Garage, London