Blog : stripelife

UNLOCKING TEAM WELLBEING DURING COVID

UNLOCKING TEAM WELLBEING DURING COVID

The thought of exercising on a cold winter morning was a mountain I was not willing to climb at the start of 2021. Despite the best intentions for a daily dose of activity before the working day, my snooze button was beginning to see more action than my push-bike.

I was not alone in my sedentary start to the new year. According to former Olympian and leading sports scientist, Greg Whyte, the combination of Lockdown 3.0 with a further reduction in activity levels during winter, meant Britain was headed for a ‘perfect storm’ on physical health and mental wellbeing.

The new normal of working from home and its negative impact on our co-workers’ wellbeing has long been at the forefront of all our minds since the pandemic hit. We believe in taking a people-first approach – so it was important for us as an agency to be proactive and create simple initiatives to engage and help support the Stripe team during what has been a difficult time for everyone.

 

Small steps to positive change

12 months ago, we formed an all-agency wellbeing committee, putting in place an action plan focused on supporting the team’s mental, as well as physical, wellbeing.

Small and simple changes to daily working routines were soon implemented; regular screen breaks, no meetings over lunch, option to use dial in ‘walking-talking’ meetings rather than desk-based zooms, fortnightly check-ins and coaching to ask how each other was getting on, a weekly all staff meeting to share news and keep people connected, and an optional online social to bring some humor into the working week.

We also offered our teams online yoga practice and meditation every fortnight in rotation. The sessions are still ongoing and allow people to wind down and bring relaxation and movement to their week.

 

Stripe Edinburgh to London challenge

One of our biggest initiatives this year in defiance of the cold winter months and the start of Lockdown 3.0, was the launch of Stripe’s Edinburgh to London Challenge, encouraging the team to cycle, run or walk the 406 miles distance between our two offices.

The focus of the challenge was not to find out who was the strongest or fittest Stripe in the agency but supporting each other to be more active and making the challenge as accessible as possible, with a mutual goal which we could all work towards.

Using the Strava App and setting up a dedicated Stripe Club, the team was able to record their miles whilst providing kudos to their co-workers in real time. We created an all-agency Spotify playlist of tunes to help us stay motivated during a workout and relayed progress updates to the team on a weekly basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A total of 33 co-workers joined the challenge and for some, the idea of taking part in a collective exercise activity was just the spark they needed to change their routine from the couch to getting outdoors.

The team smashed their target, completing 554 miles in less than a month with prizes given out to those in each office who completed the most miles.

As an agency, we have all felt the benefits of investing in team wellbeing. Helping to keep each other motivated and engaged during this time has helped to foster a new sense of purpose and camaraderie amongst us all which will continue long after lockdown ends.

And as for my snooze button: What can I say? Balance is now my new mantra on how to be more active and lead a healthier and happier lifestyle during lockdown.

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.

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?

Stripe grows our team with four new appointments

Stripe grows our team with four new appointments

Hot on the tails of our recent digital expansion, we’re excited to announce the addition of four new and very talented Stripes to our growing team.

Andrew Boocock is a former senior account manager at Gardiner Richardson managing B2B and consumer accounts, joins Stripe as an senior account manager in our Edinburgh office. Prior to agency life Andrew was a sports journalist for the BBC.

Hayley Angell, an Aussie native, communications specialist and former keynote speaker, has taken up the role of account manager in  our Glasgow office. Hayley brings with her a wealth of experience and passion for integrated marketing campaigns, social media strategy and great writing.

Elaine Cowan joins Stripe as PA to the Board. Drawing on her experience of juggling commercial property marketing and raising a fearless toddler, Elaine is set to bring more than a little order to the Stripe board.

Ana Zamora, a seasoned receptionist and paella-maker extraordinaire joins Stripe in our fast-paced front of house role.

Find the edge of your comfort zone and then jump

Find the edge of your comfort zone and then jump

A good friend once told me that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.

Wise words for a copywriter you might say, but particularly poignant in my current circumstances. This year I decided it was time to test my nerve by leaving the familiarity of home behind for a brand-spanking new adventure.

Now fear of the great unknown is a very normal human characteristic. We are wired to be risk averse. But is trying something new really all that scary?

The answer is of course, no.

In fact being brave and throwing yourself into what seems like uncomfortable experiences is the best thing you can do to develop and grow. It’s all about adapting to your surroundings (this is especially true as a PR).

Broadening my personal and professional horizons was a core motivation for leaving home comforts behind and joining the crew at Stripe.

I’ve always harboured the ambition to work with a team of adventurers – exploring new creative possibilities for inspiring change and doing things differently. And on the evidence of my first few weeks at the agency, the team strives to be bold with its ideas and brilliant in its delivery in all that it does.

Of course starting a new job is a unique and compelling challenge. Unfamiliar surroundings, alternative processes and different ways of thinking can be bamboozling at first.

But thanks to the warm welcome I received by my new creative partners in crime I’ve soon felt at home. A bag full of bounty and a haul of locally brewed ales obviously help.

However, it’s the friendly personalities of the team that make this new chapter in my PR story worthwhile. If the measure of a successful team is its people, then Stripe’s glass is more than half full.

Suddenly being out of my comfort isn’t all that bad. In fact I’d recommend it.

So be bold and dare to be brilliant. It’s the only way to earn your stripes.

In honour of freshers’ week: My dear graduate self…

In honour of freshers’ week: My dear graduate self…

It seems a bit ridiculous, considering I just graduated over a year ago, to be passing on life advice to future and recent grads. That being said, a year is a long time and I personally think that in your twenties you are thrown an abundance of life experience – mostly because you’ve done something wrong! But at the ripe old age of 24, here are five pieces of guidance I want to pass on my fellow and future graduates.

  1. Relax
  2. Learn
  3. Challenge
  4. Listen
  5. Positivity

So to start with, RELAX. Okay so student life is stereotyped to be the laziest time of your life, but clearly whoever thinks that has not been up for three days straight being haunted by the terrifying dissertation and the imminent failure that you believe is coming. After graduation you feel you can shake it off and go on to your next hugely amazing life step – but that doesn’t always happen. If things haven’t gone the way you envisioned after graduation, it’s okay. Your dream job could actually be your nightmare, you could end up only making the tea throughout your internship – that’s fine. Take what you can from these experiences and move forward. Everything will eventually fall into place. After graduation I worked almost two years in retail, throughout which I attended various interviews and undertook several internships in a variety of fields, to finally land on my feet at Stripe.

Next, you need to learn. Yes, university might be over but the learning just keeps coming! When you’re out in the scary adult world there isn’t anyone to give you the answers, you need to keep asking questions in order to learn. If you didn’t get that job, ask why. If you did get that job, ask why. Focus on your positive attributes and learn from your negatives.

Always have your game face on. If you’re not ready for the challenge, who’s going to bother challenging you? Go into every opportunity with ambition and enthusiasm, and don’t be afraid to challenge systems and present your own ideas.

Know when to listen. Being eager and inquisitive will get you so far, but remember that sometimes the answers are already there, you just need to take some time to sit back and absorb the information around you. Be observant of those around you, body language can sometimes give away more than words ever will.

Finally, stay positive. I am an eternal optimist. I do believe, at the end of the day, everything will fall into place and it will be fine. However, this is hard. Sometimes it can look like your life isn’t going anywhere or you’re being thrown problems you can’t deal with, but you can handle it. Life will only throw you what you can take, and if that means a taking a big breath and working that bit harder, then so be it. So graduates of the now and the future, give yourself a slap on the back – we’re doing alright.