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Anatomy of an agency: How to introduce flexible working practices

This week we take a look inside an agency that focuses on flexible working, technology PR agency Babel. First a bit of background. Babel was founded in 2006 by Narelle Morrison and Ian Hood. Discussing how the agency is focused on companies operating in the technology sector, Morrison says: “Since Babel’s founding, technology has evolved to become a key focus for the mainstream media, whilst different verticals within the sector have converged. This has all served to make the space a really exciting one to work in.”

Based in London, Babel also has teams based on both the East and West Coast of America, and a network of partner agencies in Europe around the world.

It’s a question of balance
Explaining the flexible working ethos of the agency, Morrison says: “At Babel, we’re firm believers in the importance of a good work/life balance, and as such support our team members to work remotely or flexibly. This approach helps us to recruit staff from outside London, giving us a wider pool of talent to choose from, and is undoubtedly a contributing factor to our high staff retention rate.

“Our flexible working benefits aren’t just available to our senior team – everyone can work from home a day or two a week, and our staff regularly take advantage of our flexi-time policy. Flexible working has been really supported by technological advancements, and through leveraging tools such as Skype and Slack we can communicate with team members and partner agencies as if they were in the same room. In fact, one of our account managers recently relocated to Cardiff, but we have regular video conferences with him to ensure we still see him on a daily basis. By promoting a good work/life balance, we find that the team comes to work refreshed, energised and motivated, and this is reflected in the work we produce.”

Flat structure
Morrison explains how the flat structure of the agency is also important: “Team members of all levels are encouraged to participate in meetings, new business pitches and ideas development, which helps them to progress their own careers. To support team members to build confidence, we arrange regular external and internal training, as well as leadership and business skills coaching. We also hold regular brainstorms, which enable us to collaborate well as an agency, and encourage people to find their voice. Brainstorms also help to ensure we’re continually thinking of creative ideas – something which is particularly important in B2B PR.”

Below, a consultant at Babel talks about his experience of working in the agency.

Declan Bradshaw, consultant:
“I started at Babel in January of this year, having spent my time post-graduation working in broadcast media. As someone learning the ropes in PR the level of support provided and knowledge shared by everyone at the agency has really helped me to progress; getting insight from those who’ve been there and done it before me has proved hugely beneficial.

“Having been guided through my first few weeks in the world of tech and telecoms media, I’ve now settled into life at Babel. From my first day onwards, I’ve been made to feel like part of the team, have had the opportunity to collaborate and contribute to campaigns, and have felt like my input has been really valued by my colleagues with more experience.

“One thing I’m particularly appreciative of is the agency’s remote and flexible working policy, allowing me to work from home every Thursday. I currently commute in from Cambridge and coach a football team at home, that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do if I was in the office.

“As much as I feel like my media skills are improving, I’m also pretty pleased that my pool-playing skills have improved too! Our conference table doubles as a pool table, which is a great excuse to take a step back from work, re-set, and go back with a clear head and fresh eyes. I’m certainly not the best in the office, but I’m not longer the worst, so that’s a win!”

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