As Matt Richards, our Head of Design, left the office before lockdown in March 2020, he joked “See you all at Christmas!” And, of course, we all laughed! None of us expected to be working from home (WFH) for long, let alone over a year later.
While we previously had one day a week WFH, the shift to full-time home working was a significant change for both individuals and the agency itself. So with new blubolters joining the ranks, and plenty of curious clients asking, we’re going behind the scenes to show how we’ve adapted to working from home one year on. Everything from the practicalities of office equipment to maintaining team knowledge, processes and communications to nurturing team spirit.
Working it: how we’ve organised our office & work from home spaces.
Covid compliance in the office.
Based on Queen Square in central Bath, we’re fortunate to have an office spanning three floors of a beautiful Georgian building. It was already spacious with ample meeting space, fully opening windows for ventilation, calming garden views, and a lovely kitchen. We’ve since increased the cleaning and created a booking system to limit the number of staff in the office at any one time.
Although our team largely operates remotely now, our office provides a colourful, light-filled, and inspiring hub for our team and clients to discuss projects. Take a quick video tour of the office on our About Us page.
Working from home.
Get your kit on: supplying office equipment for WFH.
A recent Home Improvement Trends Report found that while 55% of the UK worked from home in 2020, 41% of those people didn’t have a proper desk to work from. “We knew it was critical for both the team and business to ensure that everyone had the best possible set-up for WFH,” says Leigh Mardon, COO at blubolt. “Early on we did an equipment drop-off to team members that wanted it. We toured Somerset in a single day to deliver desks, chairs and tech equipment so everyone’s comfortable and productive working from home.”
Privacy: creating boundaries between work and home.
The same Home Improvement Trends report found that 24% of respondents were embarrassed by their background on video calls. At blubolt, we work around that by using non-video Slack calls for internal team catch-ups and Google Meet for everything else. With the latter platform, users have the option to select a blurred background for privacy. As a result, the team can fully engage with calls while keeping a boundary between their work and home lives.
A stable foundation: how we’ve created team knowledge, processes and communications for working from home.
With the usual in-person catch-ups, team meetings, and training sessions off the menu, we’ve adapted (and embraced!) the new challenges of working remotely.
The fount of all knowledge: blubolt wiki
“Our blubolt wikipedia was already in place before full-time WFH but we’ve revised and updated it. We wanted to ensure everyone knows how things work, which is important for new starters and old hands alike,” says Chris Mattingly, Co-Founder of blubolt. “In a WFH environment it can be very stressful, especially for new starters, not to have easy access to this information.”
Our blubolt wiki includes things like:
Company information. Everything from our history, brand, mission and values. Then practical things like the tools we use, social information, and company updates.
Our policies. All the administration bits and bobs like how to book holidays plus information on all the benefits and perks of the job!
Our processes. From how we pitch for projects and our design process to project management and customer support. We’ve documented the blubolt approach!
Our teams. Covering essentials like our employee directory, organisation chart (always a must-see for new starters!), and information on courses, training and conferences.
In the loop: keeping up WFH communications.
In addition to the usual team Slack calls, we’ve created extra opportunities to mingle and share information while WFH. For example, our “lunch and learn” sessions with various partners and our new website build demonstrations and testing sessions. Also, our previous in-person monthly “All Hands” meetings have been upgraded to fortnightly, providing the management with opportunities to share company news, project updates, team activities, and colleague shoutouts.
Maintaining our mojo: how we nurture team spirit remotely.
With the usual harmless office hijinx on hold, we’ve been busy building new connections and maintaining existing ones in different ways. For example:
Team tea. To continue direct conversations between individuals and our Chief Operating Officer, Leigh Mardon, we’ve introduced “Cuppa Tea with Leigh” sessions. These regular 1-2-1 chats replace the casual engagement that would’ve occurred naturally in the office.
Team events. From (no)pub quizzes to company-wide Christmas gift opening ceremonies, we’ve found ways to gather the team for fun and games.
Team visits. blubolt COO Leigh Mardon and Co-Founder Chris Mattingly personally delivered our team Christmas presents last year, even dressing as Santa and his elf (socially distanced of course!)
Team kit. In the world of ecommerce, you can never have too many hoodies! We’ve supplied the team with a variety of apparel from our beautiful ‘b’ range, which forms the basis of our fundraising store, so they can WFH in style.
Forward thinking: the office and WFH hybrid.
In summary, while full-time working from home was a bolt from the blue, we’ve risen to the challenge and had some fun along the way!