Trying to be everything to everyone does not work anymore and sometimes the service and skill that we would normally deliver in our niche can be affected by the fact that we are trying to provide services that we do not have the expertise for.

 

Could having the right working culture influence the positive growth within businesses and encourage collaboration across the community? Surely that way everyone gets to play to their strengths, and everybody benefits? Most importantly the end users/customers/clients.

We had a chat with Marcus Wincott Marketing Manager at Media Lounge and Chapter Director of Startup Grind Bournemouth all about driving collaboration and where e-commerce fits into that concept.

We will delve into the ideas surrounding nurturing a company culture, owning your ‘own space’ in the market and how you then use the power of social media to back this all up.

The future is bright for collaboration and ecommerce, let’s delve into it with Marcus.

 

Culture – Let The Team Do The Talking

 

We see this word A LOT. As Marcus quite rightly says “I think some people think if you get a ping pong table and some funky wall graphics that’s all you need, that’s your culture nailed, you’ve smashed it.” Perceptions are short lived, your beer fridge isn’t going to help you when your staff are all overworked and unhappy and as a result, the work your agency does is suffering. Culture by definition means “a way of life” not a few fun gimmicks that you can throw in to appear to have an understanding of what people / employees nowadays are looking to get from the work they do.

Your Instagram stories may tell the world one thing, but the hours your staff work can paint an entirely different picture. This can be downfall a for your workforce, leaving them feeling exhausted. Marcus stresses that there can be a change, we just need to move away from rigidness and outdated ideals.  “There was this meritocracy [at a previous agency] applied to staying late, but at Media Lounge we actively encourage staff not to work late because ultimately you have to get the work life balance right and we’re probably not managing our workload properly if we feel we have to work late. Also, you just shouldn’t – it’s not healthy.”

This will look different in every company, but making a culture successful and a team work together is about playing to individual strengths  “When meeting with my team about direction and strategy, I’ll have my own ideas for content and advertising budget and stuff, but I won’t have it formulated because everything has to be discussed with my team because they have to deliver it. I don’t force ideas upon them, but instead let them steer the strategy, change the way they work and be flexible in order to achieve our goals.”

 

How Do We Want To Work, Really Though? 

 

More and more of us are now talking about a better work life balance and having a more Holistic approach to this. However is it really achievable to implement flexible working on a large scale and can every business achieve it?

Marcus sees some positives and negatives in this approach. “Some of the best work we do is when we are all in a room together talking about a project and chipping in which you can’t do if you’re all remote. But for some tech businesses, remote staff works better, some of which don’t even have a HQ.”

Or maybe it needs to be an overhaul about how we work and spend our hours working. “I get it, I think it could be more about bits of remote working, side hustles, and people generally working less hours in a normal job so they have time for all the rest.”

 

 

“I think people still want a baseline salary but increasingly, they also want the flexibility to run a side hustle or a meet up group or something else that they’re passionate about.”

 

 

If we’re going to take this collaborative approach to the next level, maybe this is where we turn to next, where our teams work less hours and pursue passions outside of their 9-5. Could this make for a happier more productive workforce despite less hours in the office? Marcus certainly feels the benefit of this mutual trust between him and his employer and is able to watch his side hustle grow. He is the Chapter Director of Startup Grind Bournemouth which is a series of events for local Entrepreneurs, “Our commitment to the global Startup Grind brand was that we would hold an event every month and since September 2018 we’ve done that. Our only goal is to educate inspire and connect entrepreneurs in our local area to make the startup journey, a less lonely and scary one.”

 

Collaboration In Our Communities 

 

As our community opens up more, and we nurture and support each other’s ideas and smaller business plans, our guards lower and ‘competition’ suddenly becomes less of a threat.

After a few years in London, Marcus reflected on his return to Bournemouth and his surprise at the change. “The extremely active and open meet up an event scene here, just would never have happened 10 years ago. I think the collaborative nature of the digital community here has grown, and it’s because everyone is less guarded now.”

“When I came back from London there was still some of those big names knocking about like BBD, Adido, RedWeb but they were very different, they looked different. They have got their niche and the thing they do and nobody these days claims to do everything.”

The term ‘jack of all trades’ comes to mind but people are not fooled by this anymore. There is a place for’ say yes and learn how to do it when you get there’ but as a strategy this has been proven to fail and these failures do not go unnoticed.

Marcus went on to say that often Media Lounge liaise with agencies that offer similar services, because they know what they’re good at and when a project comes up, if they know they can’t give their 100% they’ll pass it on to the right person or business that can.

“Now times gone on, there is somewhat of a karmic feel to things where kindness and support come back around.”

“The most important thing should be the outcome for the client. Holistically it creates a much better idea of trust.”

 

Online Community And Buying From Those You Trust

 

When we’re pitching to our clients, trust is a key factor in conversion. As we’ve seen the rise in Social Media, Instagram particularly, the term ‘influencers’ is now part of our everyday lingo.

A new feature is on the horizon which we believe could change the face of communities online, making them more authentic. It also opens up the spectrum for the side hustle that is micro influencing.

Individuals within these smaller online communities are now going to be able to purchase directly from their favoured micro influencers posts on Instagram “They are now taking it a step further, so you can now purchase in app. That’s powerful. I think it will make the whole influencer trend more accountable and so-called influencers will have the opportunity to prove the ‘influence’ they have over their communities. Or not.” It’s no surprise that one person having millions of followers and getting paid to post a picture of themselves with a dietary supplement milkshake was going to be short lived. Just like that of a business with a transparent culture, we can see straight through it.

We are hoping this will lead to the rise of powerful and influential micro influencers who are passionate about what they do and have niche, but loyal following. This in turn can be an individual’s side hustle and will help to grow collaboration within our online and offline communities.

A business is guided by its decisions and convictions. As it grows the values become a shining light.

 

Having values means an empowered workforce.

 

When it comes to instilling a belief in empowerment, this is echoed by packaging and design company Avec UK. A Dorset based business that has seen substantial growth since its origins in 2012 and led by owner Becks Beere and a team of nearly 40 people.

 

Rise MD, Angela Piromalli and Becks both discussed the importance of building and promoting a culture that is real and has the ability to attract new team members where everyone has a unified voice.

 

How Do You Build A Company Culture?

 

It is a well-used term when a company promotes the virtues of ‘building a culture,’ but how does a business leader instill this? Becks explained, “When it comes to recruitment, I want people to buy into the business. I genuinely research people and see if they are the right fit from the outset. I will never outsource the recruitment to someone else on the team. This is a company I have built with my own hands. It is my responsibility to nurture and grow this close-knit family.

 

“I have to sell the business to others, just as much as a candidate wants to work with Avec. I want people to buy into me and my company.

 

“Avec is about getting people on board this rocket ship that we are all building. I want people to be a part of it, not a cog in a faceless business.”

 

Angela highlighted the importance of both candidate and employer having a mutual understanding. “Companies find strong talent by not sitting on their laurels. Both sides have to sell themselves. When candidates and clients are both on the same side of the road, not heading in opposite directions, it comes down to one simple trait, open communication.”

 

The Charter That Everyone Dances To

 

The importance of communication is something that is part of Avec. They have a charter that each member of the company refers to and comes back to. Becks says, “Whilst we all know what the business feels like, can we put it into words?

 

“It is important to communicate what we will succeed in and what challenges lie ahead. The team all have an active role to play. As well as the grander vision, the smaller things matter too, such as no one is allowed to huff in the workplace and everyone puts their empty plates, bowls and cups in the dishwasher. It is something we expect from each other.

“Any company that is attracting new employees need to stand up and say, ‘this is us, is this you?’”

 

The Avec charter is used as a tool for performance measurement. It is there to inform decisions and for the entirety of the team to recognise what they signed up to.

 

Trust In The Employer

 

According to the Association of Accounting Technician’s (AAT), the average UK employee will spend 3,515 full days at work over the course of their lifetime. Angela stated, “People spend a huge proportion of their lives at work. Businesses having transparency means that everyone needs to know what they are signing up to. Having something such as the Avec charter means there is alignment between the business, its responsibility and its values.”

 

Building a base for development, support and growth is a key part of a business that has longevity. People are now looking more than ever at businesses to lead and create a sense of place.

 

According to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, this report looks at how much the public trust government, media and business. The latest 2019 report points to the vital role that companies play.

Within the study, people place more trust in their companies than in political leaders. There is a notable shift in trust to the relationships people have within their control, most notably UK employers.

When it comes to mutual trust, this is something that Avec has in abundance. Becks highlights, “Business owners need to put the emphasis on their team to discover and find their own answers. Perfection is not the only solution. I want people to succeed they need to be supported.

 

“We found out that people are not necessarily motivated by money. Every two years we profile the business and the team. From our own studies, we can see that people are motivated by security, a sense of validation and encouragement to be creative. It is the responsibility for a business owner to have a responsibility for others, this is how trust is earned. We also could see what demotivates the team. The majority do not like public recognition.”

 

What about the future of an expanding company? Becks concludes, “I will give everything away for others to provide direction. However, I will not give away the customer relationship and the most precious resource, finding the right people. The company culture is one that has to be protected and championed.

 

Conclusion

 

If a company has values, they truly have to live them. This is something that Avec UK truly believe in.

 

It all comes down to the behaviour of how a company presents itself to the outside world and the obligation it has to those who work within the business.

 

Having values is more than a buzzword and something that you shout loudly on LinkedIn. It is the groundwork for a robust company culture that stands the test of time and to remain continually relevant to those that have a continual touch point with a company.