Hybrid Working Interview 1

Thursday, 24th June 2021
Hybrid Work Interview Steve Talbot
In the first of our hybrid working interviews, we’ve sat down with Steve Talbot, Director at The Agency. As brand consultants based in Birmingham the company has found the last 18 months challenging but, surprisingly, learnt a lot of business lessons too.
Let’s get into the interview…

So, let’s start off with an introduction. What is it that you do?

Hello. I’m Steve Talbot, Director at The Agency Brand Consultancy. We help business of all shapes and sizes create, connect and market their brand.

How are you working now, are your team members at home?

We are working 100% from home for the next 12 months (as of May 21). The COVID-19 pandemic was the main driver for that obviously. Subsequently, the unfortunate decline in tenants at the commercial property where we have been based for the last 13 years, led the landlord to lease the whole site to a college, pushing out us remaining tenants. We weren’t prepared for this and so we decided to keep going remotely for now until we have allocated time to finding the right space.

Now that restrictions are starting to ease, do you think you will return to the office, continue to work from home or consider a mix between the two with hybrid working?

When we do have an office again, I very much see hybrid working being a ‘thing’ for us. It’s great to have a space to work together but having some flexibility with that is great for the team.

What would you say are the pros and cons to hybrid working?

Pros:

  • Having a persistent center (a studio, office) I think helps a business feel like a business and stops individuals becoming siloed. Having a space to work together is invaluable in some of the work we do.
  • Personally, I don’t miss the crawling traffic for the last 2 miles into Birmingham City Centre each morning. That time saved lets me be more useful at home with getting the kids ready for school (which is considerably more stressful than work) which is positive from a general wellbeing perspective.

Cons:

  • Switching off. If you are a self-motivated type, or have a broad role within a business, there will ALWAYS be too much to do. Today’s technology constantly reminds you how much you have to do so when you can connect remotely, we are finding we are working longer hours just because we can.
  • Consumer grade broadband is often not as quick or reliable depending on where you live adding time to certain tasks.

What technology do you rely on to do your day-to-day job?

Our project management software (Basecamp) lets us keep track of projects and loops conversations together. Our creative software is all cloud based and projects can be opened wherever. And Teams. We had video calls before the pandemic where our clients were based in the UAE or Europe, but we spend as much time on Teams as we used to on phone. None of the above are half as good without a solid broadband connection!

Have you taken on any new technology as a result of the pandemic?

We are using Teams daily now as a way to steer internal and external projects and collaborate. But collaboration tools generally; Slack, Whatsapp, Hangouts, Zoom, Enreach Meetings… we work with what clients prefer and these have been the anchors to get things done.

Many times, I have been working with a shared screen as clients or colleagues can discuss in real time developments or ideas.

What tips would you give to businesses considering a full-time flexible workforce?

  • Working from home has its challenges – everyone’s personal circumstances are different. So be sympathetic to individual concerns to benefit the wider team.
  • Explore and invest in ways to make you more productive. We are all time poor so anything that can be done to alleviate that can only be a positive.
  • Use technology to keep people communicating and to not feel isolated. Make time to meet.
  • Trust your teams to get on with what they do but don’t abandon them. Check in, support, collaborate and don’t try to micromanage.

Do you think working patterns in England will change as restrictions ease?

Speaking generally of businesses throughout the UK as we do, working patterns have already changed and businesses and people have adapted accordingly. Rationalising commercial property had been on the cards before the pandemic. For some it was a catalyst to make overdue changes.

Do you think business are as ‘tech-forward’ as they should be?

There are always areas where tech can help. I think more often than not it is the upheaval associated with implementation or the anticipated upheaval, that holds business back rather than cost. It’s very British really; the right tech can transform how we work but we worry about the journey not how awesome the destination is.

What business lessons have you learnt from the pandemic?

I am really proud of how we have adapted, grown and continued to do great work. I put that down to how well we learned to collaborate in new ways on platforms like Teams.

I have always known we are great bunch at The Agency, but the pandemic just solidified how committed the team are and that everyone can be trusted to do what they do.

Finally, when you need to send a 5GB file and your upload speed is less than 30MB you need to build that in to your project planning!


A big thank you to Steve for speaking to us. It’s been fascinating to hear how hybrid working is impacting the creative industries. If you’d like to sit down and speak to us about the impact hybrid working is having on your industry, please contact us via enquiries.uk@enreach.com, via our chat bot, or give us a call on 0333 3603 723.

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