Blog : culture

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.

The Best of Burns Night 2017

The Best of Burns Night 2017

Yesterday evening saw all the MacDonald’s and MacDougall’s, Campbell’s and Cameron’s and all those with the slightest inkling of Scottish heritage celebrate one of the foremost aspects of Scots’ culture.

Every year, parties gather from Anchorage to Adelaide, Santiago to Seoul to boldly Address the Haggis. It’s also another perfect excuse to cross arms, join hands with your fellow Scots and revel in Auld Lang Syne once more, having most likely belted out the same tune just weeks ago at Hogmanay.

Burns and Scottish culture can, and has been celebrated, in a whole host of ways. Here are some of my favourite moments from brands and organisations marking #BurnsNight2017

Up first, the UK’s leading haggis producer, Macsween of Edinburgh, created Haggis Watch for their social media channels which saw gamekeeper Archie go on the hunt for the mythical creature that is haggis. Burns is a time for celebration in Scotland and Macsween wanted to have some fun with it and show the diversity of Haggis. A great series of video content.

The quintessential Scottish brand, IRN-BRU, celebrated Scotland’s bard in their own inimitable way with a poem dedicated to our national ginger drink.

But a spotlight on us Scots doing things differently goes to Universities Scotland, who held a Burns Night with a twist. The body that represents all nineteen higher education institutions in Scotland hosted students from over 180 countries to celebrate the richness, diversity and strength of Scottish culture. Guests were invited to attend the event at Edinburgh Corn Exchange in their home countries’ national dress. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was there to welcome guests, stating that if Robert Burns were alive today, he would celebrate the diversity and culture of Scotland. The event was used to launch Universities Scotland’s latest campaign #ScotlandWelcomestheWorld. An evening to remember and a campaign to look out for!

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Finally, we spotted Scottish designer, Anna McManus, re-imagining Burns as a modern Trainspotter in the mould of Begbie, choosing tracksuits, choosing Buckfast, choosing life. Timely and quite simply, fantastic!

This year, us Scots continued to mark the 25th January with a bit of humour, a whole lot of celebration and a reminder of our inclusive and diverse culture. Now for next year!

 

What being Agency Employer Brand of The Year means at Stripe

What being Agency Employer Brand of The Year means at Stripe

Thursday night at the Marketing Society’s St Andrews Day dinner, we were awarded Agency Employer Brand of the Year. It’s fair to say we’re no stranger to winning awards for our work, but to be recognised for the way we treat our people was pretty special and here’s why.

When we set up Stripe we had an ambition beyond doing great work for our clients and that was to create an agency that genuinely put people first. In a business where your product is your people, it’s ridiculous to have to say it, but all too often agencies are driven by nothing but the bottom line. In my opinion that’s back to front. At Stripe, we believe happy people = great work = happy clients. This philosophy hasn’t just been good for our people, it’s also been good for business. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’ve achieved year on year double digit growth and consistently exceeded our targets.

That said, when you run a small business, making a commitment to your people isn’t easy and the investment in time is huge. We don’t have the luxury of an HR department, so it’s down to our leadership team to define and deliver our people strategy day in day out. In many ways I believe this is why we’ve succeeded – everyone owns it and everyone delivers it.

Ultimately our people are our brand. ‘The Stripes’ as they call themselves define our culture and we try to let them own it as much as possible. Beyond that our philosophy is simple – it’s about supporting people to be the best that they can be. We do that through all the usual stuff like regular and consistent communication, providing forums for two way feedback, coaching, training, flexible working, reward and recognition. More importantly, it’s about giving people opportunities, empowering them and pushing them to realise their potential. But we also recognise that employees are real people beyond the doors of Stripe and we try to help them balance their lives with work as best we can.

This isn’t always easy and I’ll be honest, sometimes we don’t get it right, we are human after all. We do however take our responsibility to our people seriously. When the life of every individual is so precious, surely every business has a responsibility to do that?

A day in the life: Yasmin Ahmad

A day in the life: Yasmin Ahmad

Ever since joining the Stripe PR train in 2013 I’ve found it near impossible to sum up my job in one word, sentence, or even a paragraph for that matter. My friends always ask “What is it you actually do?” and since the day I started I’ve found it hard to put my job into a string of words that my non-comms industry friends can digest. So, to give a little taster of what a day in the PR  and communications world is really like I’m going to break it down for you….*

*Please note: a cheeky chocolate biscuit or two may have accidentally slipped off the copy…

7am
I’m an early riser and find it much easier to peel myself out of bed in the morning than keep my eyes open past 10pm. Before getting ready for the day, I have a quick scroll through my social channels to see what’s been happening in the world and check my emails to ensure no comms emergencies have happened overnight.

Work wear in PR ranges from relaxed and comfortable for a day at your desk, to power dressing for client meetings or pitches. Today it’s a pair of jeans and relaxed shirt. After a bite to eat I jump in my Fiat 500 and face the morning M8 traffic.

9am
Officially, the day kicks off at 9am but I try to get in early to get my head into the day. Being an account executive means that finding, mounting and sharing client coverage is first on my list. Once all coverage has been sent over I grab a few newspapers and catch up on the day’s news. Together, the team will highlight and share exciting or relevant news – this can be anything from a great PR stunt to the latest app launching.

10am
Once I’ve scanned my to-do list I get on with the day’s tasks – I try to highlight three priorities to focus on. We regularly use the morning to issue and sell in media releases to target press. Getting our client news in front of journalists can often be quite challenging so ensuring we sell is crucial.

11am
One of my daily tasks is to manage social media on behalf of clients.  We’re all familiar (and most likely, addicted) to using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on a daily basis but taking control of a business account and community managing each page requires a lot more time, planning, and precision than your average personal post.

12.30am
It might not happen every day, but Stripe encourages staff to reclaim their lunch break following this Stylist campaign. Not one for working out at night, I try to use my lunch breaks to get a bit of fitness in to my life. After a 28 minute workout (Kaylia Istines Bikini Body Training Guide) I return to my desk to eat a few slices of avocado on toast.

2pm
If you’re going to work in this industry, you need to enjoy creative writing. I often use the afternoons to tick off some of my writing tasks – media releases for me range from the latest Stewart Milne Homes showhome opening to new A/W fashion at Buchanan Galleries. 

3.30pm
I have a Stripey Thinking session in the diary – this is the company’s creative thinking process. Through a dedicated facilitator, we use a system of categories, post-its and creativity to come up with captivating ideas for the next big client campaign, photocall or event.

4.30pm
Back at my desk I try to tick off a few more task before the day ends. PR is an extremely fast paced business and there really is never enough hours in the day to get what you need done.

5.30pm
5.30pm passes and I continue working to get the task at hand complete. Unlike many other jobs, once the bells rings for the day, it’s not a matter of stopping what you’re doing and heading home. To ensure tomorrow is a little easier, I stay and finish off what I’m doing for that all satisfying tick off the to-do list.

6pm
Before I head home I look ahead at what tomorrow has in store and plan out my day. Doing this the night before means you can dive straight in to the day’s work and don’t miss any upcoming deadlines.

8pm
My evenings usually consist of a little home cooking, catching up on my favourite TV series and ultimately relaxing before another day in the manic, yet rewarding, world of PR and comms.