19
Mar
Grace French

A year of working from home

Posted by Grace FrenchTagged , , , ,

How we’ve adapted, what we’ve learnt, and what will change

Like so many others, I remember the surreal afternoon of 16th March 2020 very clearly. At Stand HQ, we were gathered around our TV watching Boris Johnson urge the nation to start working from home immediately.

At the time, it was assumed we’d be a ‘WFH nation’ for a few weeks. But fast-forward a year and our dining tables are still our desks, our lounges are our offices, and our pets make regular guest appearances on video calls.

In a year where time has (almost) lost all meaning, we’ve been reflecting on what a full year of working from home has meant to us, not only as colleagues, but also as a nation.

It’s been a year of fundamental change that’s prompted governments, industries, businesses and individuals to evolve out of necessity, but also to reflect on what really matters. It’s been a reset button that we never could have planned for, but that we have to act on.

So, as lockdown restrictions gradually lift (third time lucky) and offices begin to re-open, we’ll be enthusiastically returning to a “new different” rather than a “new normal.”

Here are our key learnings and reflections from a year like no other:

Adapt quickly, stay flexible

We work on laptops so could adapt immediately to WFH. But of course, there were teething problems to overcome, with WFH environments varying greatly. Our serviced office has remained open and Covid-compliant, but recognising that everyone has individual personal and commuting circumstances, we couldn’t rely on this as a solution for all.

A quickfire investment in screens, office chairs, keyboards and headsets ensured we could all work from home effectively. Looking forward, we’re now set up for greater flexibility, and productive working, both at the office and from home.

Quality, not quantity communication

The transition to WFH is a major one at the best of times. But during a time of significant confusion, emotion, and concern, it had to be managed sensitively. Keeping colleagues connected and avoiding isolation, without overwhelming our diaries with meetings and socials, was a delicate balance to strike. Over time we found the perfect balance: a weekly company meeting, wellness-focused session, 1-2-1 coffee catch up, and a fun activity (needle-felting, pub quizzes, jazzercize, laughter yoga – you name it, we’ve done it!).

We’ll be adapting this model as we head back into the office, and continuing to dedicate time to celebrating success, alongside prioritising wellbeing and creativity. 

Read more “A year of working from home”

18
Mar
Tani Fatuga

Believe in Better: Insight and inspiration from industry leaders

Posted by Tani FatugaTagged , , ,

Britain is the birthplace of the industrial revolution – and despite the challenges presented by global and domestic events such as Covid-19 and Brexit, for many manufacturers, the past year has presented opportunities to diversify and grow their business.

One of the silver linings of such a difficult 2020 is that we have been forced to look at what we can produce a little closer to home. Supply chains are becoming more centralised as companies have been encouraged to innovate and create better ways of sourcing products, ethically and locally.

Recently, we sat down with John Pearce, CEO of Made in Britain, a not-for-profit organisation that supports British manufacturers under a single, registered collective mark.

John talks about the role of the manufacturing industry in reaching the country’s net-zero target, how we can encourage more people to buy British, and why becoming fairer and more ethical are key factors in the future success of British manufacturing.

Read more “Believe in Better: Insight and inspiration from industry leaders”

17
Mar
Natasha Machin

Is it time to cancel ‘cancel culture’?

Posted by Natasha MachinTagged , , , , ,

What is cancel culture? 

With the rise of social media, we saw the rise of cancel culture, which has claimed many unsuspecting public figures and businesses over the last decade. Cancel culture, the act of rejecting a target who has broken social norms, can impact anything or anyone from all walks of life, careers and background.

The pros, the cons?

There are two leading attitudes to cancel culture. One position sees the ability to ‘cancel’ as an important tool for social justice. It gives a voice to those who aren’t in positions of power, through wealth or influence, allowing them to call attention to actions or words they don’t agree with. Throughout the pandemic, more people have been spending time on social media to stay connected, with adults spending on average over 4 hours a day in 2020, compared to 3.5 hours in 2019. This has led to a dramatic increase in public figures and brands being called out for various decisions, actions and speeches that the cancellers haven’t let slide.

Alternatively, others see cancel culture as the grave death of free speech and open debate, as many are cut down for openly sharing an opinion not shared by the cancellers. In 2020, A Letter on Justice and Open Debate was published in Harper’s Magazine arguing this new culture was leading to the restriction of debate and cause detrimental harm to democracy. This letter was signed by over 150 people including Margaret Atwood, J. K. Rowling and Salman Rushdie.

Consumer influence on brands

In recent years, brands, who previously would tend to avoid politicising themselves, have begun to take active political stances. This might have something to do with the attitudes of their target consumers. Research from 2018 revealed 64% of consumers around the world will buy from or boycott a brand solely because of the position on a social or political issue it has taken. A favourable stance on a particular issue, might incentivise a consumer to buy from one business over their competitor who has taken the opposite stance, or even no stance at all.

It could be argued that consumers cancelling brands and businesses who associate themselves with undesirable opinions or figures is doing society a justice. It’ll rid us of ‘bad’ brands who have a negative impact on the environment or society. But what happens when ‘good’ brands get cancelled?

Good guys gone bad

Tony Chocoloney, a brand with the mission to make delicious chocolate, while eradicating modern-slavery and child labour from the supply chain, has recently been dropped from Slave Free Chocolate’s list of ethical chocolate companies. The reason behind this being Tony Chocoloney’s links to Barry Callebaut, a leading industrial chocolate manufacturer. Barry Callebaut has admitted that its own supply chain is not free from child labour and slavery-free in a US court case brought against main players in the cocoa industry, including Mars and Nestle.

This might seem strange. Why is Tony Chocoloney working with a chocolate manufacturer abusing the very thing Tony Chocoloney aims to eradicate? Tony Chocoloney was founded with the ambition to make 100% slave free the ‘norm’ in chocolate production, aiming to show mainstream brands that chocolate can be delicious and ethical. But they acknowledged that it will not be a straightforward road. This is the reason Tony Chocoloney is standing by Barry Callebaut, instead of washing their hands of them. Tony Chocoloney is proving that on the road of progression to an ethical future, there will be setbacks, but that does not mean all hope is lost.

So, does Tony Chocoloney deserve to be cancelled for sticking with a supply chain that has been caught red-handed in abusing human rights?

I don’t think so. While cancel culture can make society a safer place and protect from those spouting hate speech, promoting discriminatory practices or supporting objectionable figures, it restricts brands and people from learning from their mistakes and growing. The path to a more accepting, ethical and sustainable future is not straightforward, so we should not leave behind those who veer off the path, and instead let them realise their mistakes and find their own way back.

We can’t let perfection be the barrier to progress.

 

 

02
Mar
Georgie Howlett

Why ‘sustainability’ is falling short

Posted by Georgie HowlettTagged , , , ,

Before I get carried away, it’s pertinent to point out that this was first mooted nearly a decade ago. I am not saying anything new here. But like with any change, there are the early adopters, the pioneers, the people who have an idea almost too soon. Real change occurs a while later, at the tipping point, as Malcolm Gladwell so aptly put it.

Never has the welfare of our beautiful blue planet been so high on the public agenda. Maybe some businesses are talking about it because they’ve realised their customers are starting to vote with their wallets and they are only interested in the bottom line, and some consumers are choosing sustainable brands to look good among their peers, but ultimately, the tide is turning. And ultimately, do individual motivations matter if it makes an overall positive change (for the time being, anyway)?

One of the silver linings of Covid-19 is it has been a bit of a global reset of attitudes and priorities, prompting many businesses to take a long hard look at themselves and do better.  As I am in the business of language, I want to put the spotlight on the word ‘sustainability’ and ask if it’s enough.  There is a whole industry built around ‘sustainability’ and it is a vital one. The people working in sustainability, and the businesses championing it, are doing truly exciting work. They are shaking up old models, interrogating supply chains, and finding the path to net zero, or better, net positive.

But let’s look at the word. To ‘sustain’ in this context means to maintain, to keep at a particular level.  In fact, its definition is ‘to cause or allow something to continue for a period of time’. It’s passive. Haven’t we learned that this isn’t enough? Last year the Black Lives Matter movement highlighted how not being racist isn’t enough – standing by silently is not enough, and the rallying call to society was to take action for change to happen. It is very clear the action we must take now is to put things back, to rebalance, to regenerate the biodiverse soils and seas that we have ravaged. We’ve taken so much from our planet, that operating ‘sustainably’ is not enough.

Read more “Why ‘sustainability’ is falling short”

09
Feb
Eryl Bradley

Believe in Better: Insight and inspiration from industry leaders

Posted by Eryl BradleyTagged , , , ,

According to a recent report by the thinktank, Ember, the UK’s renewable electricity outpaced its fossil fuel generation for the first time in 2020 and could remain the largest source of electricity in the future. It’s big news for the sector because although renewable energy has overtaken fossil fuels during the summer months before, 2020 was the first time that renewables were the main source of the UK’s electricity over a year.

As a business that contributes to the transition to a green energy system, our client Zenobe Energy, a leading owner and operator of battery storage, is very much part of this change. Its unique offering helps bring renewable energy onto the grid and is accelerating the rollout of electric buses and fleets across the UK.

For the fifth episode in our Believe in Better series, we spoke to Steven Meersman, Zenobe Energy’s co-founder, about why battery storage is important in the transition to renewable energy, what the UK needs to do to transition to a green energy system in 2021 and beyond, and what ‘better’ looks like for the industry.

Watch this space for future episodes of Believe in Better with more inspiring thought leaders from our network.

Check out our previous episodes, which include:

Justine Lago, Director and Executive Coach of Onion HR

Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music

Leonor Stjepic, CEO of Montessori Group

Steve Swayne, Chair of the Institute for Turnaround

To learn more about Stand Agency, work with or collaborate with us, please email ask@standagency.com. Follow us on Twitter @standsays

05
Feb
Tani Fatuga

Race Equality Week – Why representation matters

Posted by Tani FatugaTagged , , , ,

For the first time in history, the 1st – 7th of February 2021 is being observed as Race Equality Week, here in the UK. A time where organisations and individuals across the UK, unite to address Race in the workplace.

The events of 2020, more specifically the Black Lives Matter movement, coupled with the disproportionate impact of COVID on ethnic minority communities, have intensified public consciousness of race inequality yet, black representation at the top of FTSE 100 companies is at a whopping zero.

The main aim of this initiative is to create a different environment for race relations and improve racial equality in the workplace. One that builds a permanent bridge between decision making and our lived experience.

As we near the end of the first Race Equality Week, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on my own personal experiences of working in the PR and communications industry as a young black woman, and my personal perspective on the industry’s progress to date towards achieving diversity and inclusion.

Representation of black PR professionals has increased over the last few years, however there is still much more that can be done to remove racial barriers in the industry and attract more ethnic minority talent.

After securing my first role, I learnt very quickly that as a young black woman, I had to adopt a work personality to survive in the workplace, as there were not many individuals who I could identify with. I have always appreciated the importance of networking, but I found myself looking for networking events specifically for ethnic minorities, to boost my chances of meeting other black PR professionals in senior leadership positions.

Read more “Race Equality Week – Why representation matters”

11
Jan
Grace French

We Believe that ‘Better’ is on the horizon – so we’re helping brands get there

Posted by Grace FrenchTagged , , , , ,

Why we’re joining forces with LONDON Advertising and Pimento to offer reduced fees for new clients in January.

As the reality of lockdown 3.0 sets in, and with conversations already taking place about it being extended ‘til Easter, it can be all too easy to feel gloomy about 2021. Wasn’t it meant to be ‘better’ than 2020?

The sense of unease amongst individuals and businesses is all too understandable. But with vaccines being rolled out, ‘better’ is coming – and in the meantime we as a nation we must strive to come out of January with an energy and optimism to see us through the coming months.

In a year of lockdown and decreased interaction, communication has proven itself to be a lifeline for many. Relationships between many brands and their consumers have been cemented or shattered in a tense landscape.

Over the next few months, we will see more brands examining their positioning and their purpose, the changes they want to make happen, and how this fits into a post-Covid world. With a collective sense that there are lessons to be learnt from the pandemic – both positive and negative – this time of introspection is critical, and will lay the groundwork for more meaningful comms going forward.

Read more “We Believe that ‘Better’ is on the horizon – so we’re helping brands get there”

21
Dec
Eryl Bradley

The future of communications: insight, strategy and results

Posted by Eryl BradleyTagged , , , , , ,

Anyone who knows us well will know that Stand’s work is built on insight, strategy and results: these are the three pillars of our success.

Think of them as the before, during and after of a campaign or project.

Before we begin working with a client, we like to understand them, and what their audience needs and expects from them. This is so we can ensure nothing we say falls on deaf ears, and our work is always grounded in knowledge of the sector.

During any communications work we carry out, we are guided by an end goal. This is some sort of tangible outcome which helps define exactly what success looks like; this could be trying to redefine how we view life post-retirement or educating the public about the signs of a rare heart condition. Everything we do is based on an airtight strategy that works to get clients where they want to be.

And, as a result of these two things, we like to think we get results that matter – whether that’s one in-depth piece of coverage in the right publication, or a social media campaign that reached 50 of the right people. It’s been reassuring to see more clients interested in these tangible and meaningful results, and less wowed by vanity metrics; a trend we hope continues.

In a year where just getting through is something we all deserve a pat on the back for, we’ve had some interesting and exciting projects that show how, in the world of communications, some things will never be the same post-Covid. Here’s a few examples relating to a client I’ve worked on this year, the Grounds Management Association.

Read more “The future of communications: insight, strategy and results”

11
Nov
Chloe Roberts

Believe in Better: Insight and inspiration from industry leaders

Posted by Chloe RobertsTagged , , , , ,

Recently we spoke to Justine Lago, Director and Executive Coach at Onion HR. Justine has been involved in operational leadership management and development for the last 20 years, having worked in senior operational management positions, human resources and consulting.

In this episode we discuss what good leadership looks like during challenging times, and which attributes have helped organisations grow during this time. We also asked Justine what qualities leaders will need to have in the future, and as businesses respond to new lockdown measures – and many teams continue to work from home – how do companies build a supportive culture to ensure resilience and keep motivation up?

Watch this space for future episodes of Believe in Better with more inspiring thought leaders from our network.

To learn more about Stand Agency, work with or collaborate with us, please email ask@standagency.com. Follow us on Twitter @standsays

11
Aug
Ollie Swan

Is it finally the end of best practice guides?

Posted by Ollie SwanTagged , , ,

Over recent months, we at Stand have discussed openly how our behaviours have changed during lockdown. Some changes have been positive, with many enjoying extra time to spend on themselves. Other changes have not been quite so productive – I for one would not be too keen on letting anyone see how the weekly screen time on my phone has skyrocketed. Thankfully, it would appear that I am not alone in this, with recent data from social media suggesting that many others have found themselves glued to their devices.

The fact that social media usage has increased is hardly surprising. Social media fundamentally exists to connect us with one another, which has been needed over months spent apart from friends and family. Across the board, social media has experienced increased engagement with users having more time to spend online. Data from GlobalWebIndex suggests that 47% of internet users aged 16-64 across 17 countries are spending longer on social media, 23% of which suggest usage is “significantly” longer. What’s more, Facebook reached the remarkable and almost unbelievable milestone of 3bn users across its network of apps.

Read more “Is it finally the end of best practice guides?”