Villa Bonne Nouvelle's co-working initiative

20 Jul 2016
Villa Bonne nouvelle 2

We support “our” start-ups in many different ways, depending on their needs: financing, technical expertise, human and material resources. In downtown Paris, our Villa Bonne Nouvelle co-working space welcomes start-ups and freelance professionals, who work alongside – and with – our own people in an innovative space designed to foster collaboration and to experiment with new working methods.

Our Human Resources Department initiated the Villa Bonne Nouvelle project in July 2014, with the backing of Real Estate and expertise from engineers. This “laboratory of human relations” explores the impact of digital technologies on working methods. Its objectives are to observe and analyse the evolution of management and operational practices in a fully digitised environment organised to foster collaboration, and to identify the good practices and keys to success that will improve Orange’s own operational methods as we pursue our digital transformation. 
At Villa Bonne Nouvelle, some sixty people from start-ups, freelances and various Orange project teams mingle for one season (nine months). During Season 2, which ends in July, the Orange teams from Datavenue, Orange Digital Ventures, Orange MIB4 Ecosystème and Wizzway Solutions shared the office with a freelance art director, a platform of on-demand photographers (EverPhotoShoot), a publisher of dynamic data software for the web and mobiles (StreamData.io), strategy consultants focused on gamification (Brand2Play) and others.  

Collective, the first step to collaborative

Ava Virgitti, the Villa’s feel good manager, helps everyone fit in and make connections. The community agrees on rules of behaviour and on the little rituals that keep the place buzzing: welcome breakfasts for newcomers, joint lunches, participative Prez2Pitch workshops to talk about one’s project or ask for an opinion, the community’s social network, etc. The Villa is also open to NGOs; it hosts photo exhibitions, networking meetings between experts and even evening football games!
“The important thing is to put people first. Before we do anything collaborative, we need to build something collective,” Ava explains. “92% of residents approve this approach. And the teams of Season 1 said they delivered their projects faster than planed!”
For start-ups, Villa Bonne Nouvelle is much more than an office. It’s a place to confront viewpoints, share entrepreneurial experience and the invaluable advice and expertise of Orange’s experts.

Learning by doing

According to HR Innovation Manager Séverine Blanchard-Jazdzewski: “Here at Orange, we work more and more often in project mode. It’s also become common to integrate a start-up. So it’s necessary to understand the codes of these entities – which are very different from those of a large group – and to adopt similar approaches to work together better. Villa Bonne Nouvelle is a true experiential immersion that heralds the collaborative working methods of the future and helps build both business performance and employee wellbeing.”

The experience continues with the opening of Season 3 and maybe other similar initiatives in different places.