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An ode to the office

An ode to the office

There’s a bit of a tradition at Stripe which started when there was four of us crowded round a single deskphone back in 2007 – when it’s a colleague’s birthday we get cake and candles and we sing happy birthday. That’s it. But oh my god, do I miss those moments. Ten perfect minutes of celebration, joy and community all wrapped in glorious cake-y goodness.

It might be an unpopular opinion, but I miss the office. In all likelihood this is compounded by the fact that I have three marauding kids at home. Even still, I miss the office. I miss coffee and chat with my work wife, I miss the shared moments when you crack a brief, I miss the energy and buzz of big days and busy weeks, I miss spontaneous conversations and random comments that turn into really productive moments. I miss all the teamwork and togetherness that you just don’t seem to get on a Zoom call.

When Twitter announced last month that it would be changing its WFH policy to, well, forever, it set a forward-thinking precedent that could shape the future of how we work. There’s no doubt the benefits of working from home have been huge and have reinforced the value of mental health and work life balance. Letting go of some of the more stressful parts of work life – for me, the commute, the school run and the pressure to ‘be somewhere’ – and then also the realisation that, in fact, productivity doesn’t drop while working remotely.

So yes, absolutely the work is getting done but, in my opinion, it’s just not as much fun. It might sound naff but in a creative and agile industry like PR we don’t just go to work to work, we also go to play and be social. Productivity is important but it isn’t everything. Certainly, for some businesses and their workforces, fully WFH will work like a charm and it’s amazing that this moment has propelled in such positive change. I suppose that when we consider what the future holds for office-based cultures, I’m just not convinced it’s exclusively one thing or another and that maybe the reality is we’ll need a little bit of both.

Perhaps with flexibility, trust and compassion, there’s a chance we can have our cake and eat it.

My Digital Day take-outs: Tackle the big questions first

My Digital Day take-outs: Tackle the big questions first

By 11am last Thursday there was some pretty big questions being asked of the delegates at the Marketing Society Scotland’s Digital Day 2015. Namely, how do you want to change the world? We’re talking in the context of brands here so not me personally, but even still. My exact thoughts in response were: Coffee. First. Please.

The speaker was Andre Campbell, Global Manager of Integrated Digital Marketing and Brand Partnerships at Microsoft and despite the enormity of that specific question he was doing a pretty slick job of convincing us that really, if you can’t answer that question then your brand is going to lack purpose. And these days it’s ALL about the purpose (Note: purpose, not proposition).

Andre is a really passionate speaker and got me thinking about how important it is to tackle these tricky questions up front and put them at the heart of how we, as marketers, build brands. If you want to succeed in today’s competitive world then you need to be so much more that ‘just another great product’. That helps of course, but it’s not everything – in fact, far from it. Brands need to show heart. Lots of heart.

I had a discussion with a colleague a couple of days before where her words echoed a similar sentiment – ‘start with the heart and the rest will follow’ and she’s right. Create a purposeful brand that stands for something. Evoke emotion. Take action. Win hearts and minds. Sounds good, right?

So how does this translate to content – today people want more from their brand and therefore more from their content. Andre states quite simply ‘build stories that matter’. This sounds like common sense to me but this stuff needs to be said out loud, because, well, sometimes common sense isn’t that common. And you only have to look at your own social media feeds to see the brands guilty of churning out content that does not matter.

Having said that there’s a lot of stuff that’s pretty awesome – Andre cited the Nike ‘We Own the Night’ campaign. I love this. They totally nailed it. Nike created a meaningful space for its female fans – it invested time and energy in them and the result was gold for everyone. I’m just gutted I wasn’t there.

For me, what this comes back to is thinking about the quality of content – Nathalie Nahi touched on this in her workshop around the science of online persuasion – and Tom Ollerton of WeAreSocial discussed it more detail asking another big question of the day, ‘if you stopped doing social now – why would anyone miss you?’. Yikes. So you can be timely, relevant, informative and entertaining but to really succeed you need to give your fans a reason to miss you – give them the content that they can’t get anywhere else. While exclusives are nothing new, we need to think hard about the audiences and channels we apply them on.

Digital Day 2015 definitely threw-up lots to think about relating to the role of content in building a really strong brand led-business. But for me it was all about the big questions. I was so intrigued that evening I asked my six year old how he wanted to change the world. His answer: make a donut robot. When I asked why, he simply said, can you imagine how happy everyone would be. Start with the heart and the rest will follow, maybe it is that simple.