The Deviceful team have been on an extremely interesting journey these past 18 months and I thought it would be helpful to share the following office / WFH experiences with you all (now that we are all back working together as a creative team in London).
Our new office and working model
We now operate a successful 2 / 3 (office / WFH) arrangement where we have ‘mandatory Mondays’ to get the team together and focused, followed by a secondary mandatory day of each staff member's choice. The office is available for staff to use 24/5 and many members of the team go in for more than the required 2 days. For this reason, we have a full office space large enough for all of our staff with their own dedicated desks. This is important as happy staff = happy customers = happy times…
We also never realised how much value you're able to create simply by all being together. This is a tough metric to appropriate but the level of collaboration, learning, and relationship building that occurs when you’re all sharing the same environment are more important than a monthly rental cost.
The importance of consulting with the team
We really cared about what the team wanted so we went through a detailed period of consultation. It’s a balance to consider the needs of the business and the preferences of the team but you can’t go wrong if you meet and listen to staff. Even if what you propose isn’t their ideal, at least your team will be able to find value in you hearing them out. Never gonna be a perfect solution for everyone so the business just needs to make a call at the end of the day.
There was also the consideration early on about how comfortable people felt about working together and commuting. At the end of the day, it’s in everyone’s interest to get back to work but we need to do it in a considerate way and to make sure the environment feels safe - which we feel it was once we did our covid office risk assessment.
Surprisingly we didn’t see a split in age group between the stay-at-homers and back into Londoners. We expected our millennials (and younger) to be chomping at the bit to get back into the city, but it was a pretty mixed bag with both young and old members of staff wanting to work in both their home and office environments.
The positives and negatives of our current model
Let’s start with the obvious, less commuting is better for everyone. That’s not in doubt. It saves us all time (up to 2.5hrs a day for many), money, and stress.
We also all love the flexibility of working out of coffee shops or our local gym’s cafe when doing wfh days. Getting up and deciding where to work is extremely liberating and a massive benefit from my personal perspective.
In the past, we also might need to do 5-10 business meetings before a client decided to work with us. That costs time, shoe leather, and money. Now with a quick hangout, we’re able to find out if a prospect is a worthwhile client within 20 mins. We now save most face-to-face meetings (where there is a clear relationship opportunity) for after the 2nd, 3rd, or even 8th meeting.
Our office costs have increased as rent prices go up across the board. Currently, we pay for a full office space even though it might be empty 1 or 2 days a week. We also can’t be 100% sure that there won’t be another wave or variant that leads to another short-term lockdown.
Wfh has resulted in some new logistical business challenges around IT infrastructure, staff welfare, and day-to-day management. These are all workable challenges but they require thinking time and resources to overcome properly.
Lastly, new starters are actually asking for their commuting costs to be covered when coming into the office. I’ve even heard of some businesses believing that salaries should be lowered if their staff want to work from home. All of this has led to a delicate balance between employer and employee around what needs are greater or more important.
This is one area that, I’m happy to say, Deviceful seems to have navigated with relative success.
I hope these observations help one or two of you with your future working arrangements and I look forward to responding to any questions you may have. If I can be of any further help, please let me know.
- Marcus Harding