Over 17 years, digital marketing agency AGY47 (formerly Silverbean) has progressed dramatically, from being based out of its founder’s bedroom to employing 56 people in offices in Newcastle, Teeside, and, as of this year, Sydney.
Damian Hall, chief operating officer, is keen to ensure that staff are supported as much as possible. “We have fully flexible working arrangements: as long as our clients are looked after, we don’t mind when, or where, [staff] do their hours,” he says. “They can work from either of the UK offices or from home: I don’t want people driving 50 miles a day for work.”
While technology is key to enabling this flexibility and providing staff with the opportunity for a healthy work-life balance, the organisation also works to discourage employees from being fixated on their screens. “We want staff to take meetings outside or walking meetings whenever they can,” says Hall. “Thinking time, away from screens and emails, is important.”
Emails outside of work hours are not encouraged, and notifications on the organisation’s online workspace, Slack, are put on snooze during the evening and at weekends.
To further demonstrate the importance of having a strong work-life balance, employees are also asked to avoid having emails or the Slack app installed on their phones. “When the work day is complete, [they] should relax and switch off completely,” Hall explains.
This switching-off process is particularly important when it comes to employees taking annual leave, because a very dim view is taken of anyone working while they are on their holiday.
“It happens, but I don’t expect people to be working when they’re off,” says Hall. “Holidays are an important time for relaxing, and [employees] can’t do that properly if [they’re] worrying about work.”