Case study: advertising agency embraces flex

Only 2% of job vacancies in the marketing and advertising industry offer flexible working options. Award-winning creative agency Rufus Leonard recognised the danger in cutting itself off from talent that did not fit the traditional 9-5 work model.

Rufus needed to find a way for the right people to be brought in and ‘flexed up’ during periods of high demand. The firm joined the Agile Future Forum to commit to embedding an agile working mindset into its business and ensure it would not be left behind in a rapidly changing, 24-7 industry.

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How it works

Agile working gave Rufus a way to build on its range of specialist skills in the office in a commercially viable and manageable way.

To see how agile working could transform the agency, Rufus went about understanding how its staff preferred to work. Over one third of the workforce was already formally working flexibly, a mixture of both men and women. The agency encouraged all staff to go beyond this and co-ordinate their working hours to work around clients.

This agile approach enabled staff to manage childcare, family life and commitments better outside of work. As a result, Rufus found staff were healthier, happier and more motivated. Employees reported that this approach to flexible working/creating and work-life balance showed that the company cared about them. Since they were happier, this improved their approach as an agency and clients responded positively.

If staff were required to work late to hit a deadline, they were provided with beer and pizza to help get them through the night. There are also a range of initiatives such as ‘Thank Rufus it’s Friday’ during Summer, when staff were able to leave at 1pm and enjoy the long sunny days.

Internal studio

To ensure staff had the tools needed for this flexible approach, the agency invested in virtual project management systems Slack and Trello. These acted as a convenient, centralised and virtual hub for teams to use to store content and to check how a project was progressing remotely.

Rufus’ office layout also reflects agile working practices, providing staff with laptops, open spaces for hot desking, and break-out areas where they can hold informal meetings, host a brainstorm or have quiet time to spark creative thinking.

Rufus also often shares space with its clients and seconds staff to clients’ offices, giving them the opportunity to split their time between two locations. This allows for a greater amount of face time with clients, a higher level of immersion in projects and better communication and efficiency.

Helping clients to become more agile has become a key part of Rufus’ service offering. For example, working with one of the UK’s oldest institutions, British Gas, to develop an app to help millennials manage their gas account, Rufus supported British Gas to ‘flex up’ at certain points in the development process. The agency pulled together a multifunction project team – spanning product, marketing, IT and customer care- and delivered the project in only three months.

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Reaping the rewards

Overall, the firm has found that staff retention and new business wins have increased as a result of offering agile working. In 2014 the agency reported its best year for new business to date, with a pitch-win ratio of 75% and a place on the rosters of 11 new clients, including PizzaExpress, the AA and Stagecoach.

The agency also won 19 industry awards, saw an elevation in media interest and coverage, and a positive effect on staff retention.

For more information on the Agile Future Forum visit: http://www.agilefutureforum.co.uk/

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