An opportunity for growth - Pete Hayes
Pete Hayes is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of the London based design agency PB Creative. We caught up with him to find out how they are dealing with a full year of remote working.
What has lockdown been like for you as a team leader?
The weeks are still flying by and one-week blends into the next, but we are still upbeat, positive and most importantly, busy!
Have you noticed any changes to your team culture?
We have always had a strong team culture at PB, the fundamentals of which haven’t changed at all, we’re still very close-knit as a team. But the openness to flexibility has definitely changed. Everyone has whole-heartedly embraced remote working despite the challenges. For the team members with young families, it’s actually been a change for the better in many respects.
In terms of flexible working, I doubt we would be where we are now in 10 years’ time if it wasn't for COVID-19. It has forced us to view everything from a new perspective. – which is a positive.
How have you and your team stayed connected over the past months?
Erratic internet connections have presented some challenges but that’s a small issue considering the bigger picture. Microsoft Team’s has become the cornerstone for how our business communicates and interacts.
We’ve consistently maintained day to day interactions throughout our team – just digitally.
For example, we implemented Coffee Roulette at the start of lockdown – twice a week we pull 2 names from a hat to have a coffee and a chat – this recreates those incidental chats in the kitchen that often happen by chance when everyone’s in office.
We also hold weekly company updates to ensure everyone has a clear view of the bigger picture and knows what’s happening across the business.
It’s a great way to keep the entire team interacting rather than just the team members you work with day to day – so it’s important to maintain them.
Have you noticed any changes in behaviour within your team – good or adverse, but some people thrive working from home, others definitely do not?
The more senior team have adapted quickly, spending more time with families with a better work-life balance, although homeschooling throws in its own challenges, it has focused the team to become more efficient!
It’s been mixed with the more junior team members, those in flat shares having to work in communal areas or bedrooms have found it more difficult to differentiate between home and work time. But we’ve encouraged everyone to create a clear distinction between the two wherever possible.
We’ve also provided office equipment to make the team’s home set up more comfortable.
Has it been manageable overseeing creative work whilst at home?
The systems we have in place are working very well, we have the same specific gates and points of contact throughout the creative process, except now they’re digital.
Have you worked longer hours as a result of working from home?
To begin with yes, the 3 first months of lockdown in 2020 were some of the busiest we’ve ever had – but we would have worked just as hard in studio – despite the circumstances the team dug really deep to deliver the same high standards we are renown for.
If you knew you had to work from home for another year, would you be happy?
I would be – but then I’m happy to limit my commute and time in London. Across the rest of the team, I think opinion would be split. Again, the younger team members who are missing the more social side of working and living in London, and the day-to-day interaction with the rest of the team would find it more challenging.
What do you miss about not being in the studio?
Personally, I miss the team. We have a great bunch of highly talented people at PB so I miss the banter and the atmosphere, as well as the table footie at lunch and of course a few beers after work! I think we’re all missing the direct interaction with real people, Teams is great, but it will never be a permanent substitution for meeting face to face.
What is one positive that has arisen from the past few months?
Our openness to flexible working and seeing how adaptable the team can be. I’m super proud of how everyone has taken the last 12 months in their stride, accepted the challenge and got on with it.
The pandemic has definitely accelerated us into a much more fluid and flexible working structure, without compromising on quality, creativity or agility.
Will you be changing the manner in which you work in the future? I.e. split between home and existing studio, finding smaller space for part-time working, or short term lets even?
Absolutely, that is big focus for the future. What have we learned from this and how can take it forwards to better the business? It’s clear that offering flexibility and challenging the status quo of a standard working week is important to our team.
We planned early and we’re ready with the right digital platforms to take the business virtually and keep us all connected.
We still have ambitious growth plans and embracing remote working allows us to realise those plans by increase the size of our team without significantly increasing our overheads. It enables us to grow beyond the capacity of our current studio. We still need somewhere for the team to call home, but it will be a different type of home moving forwards.
Find out more about Pete, PB Creative and their fantastic work here.