On the 15th March 2020 we told all of our staff to pack up their belongings from the office and head home early to prepare their kitchen tables, home offices or sheds to work from home. Initially, we thought it would be for just six weeks.
How naive were we.
The pandemic has changed everything when it comes to the potential of how we work and collaborate. It has opened the door to exploring new ways of working that frees us from draining everyday physical constraints such as commuting long distances, travelling for meetings and even relocating for work. It has the potential to improve career-life balance, create a healthier work culture and give choice to those who need it to work from home or the office. That standard 9-5 office culture never took people into consideration. Here at ClearStory International we believe in the potential to change that.
Your people on the ground are core to your company – this is something we take great pride in at ClearStory. With floods of announcements that some companies were turning fully remote while others were compelling employees to get back to the office, we decided that, in the interests of our staff and their wellbeing, we’d take a more modern approach. We surveyed our team in April of this year to find out their attitudes towards remote work and what their experience had been like over the past 18 months. By and large everybody had a positive experience…with some caveats, of course.
As a team, and a flock of highly talented people, we missed socialising – something we haven’t been able to do much of since lockdown. Let’s face it, making friends is at the heart of creating a positive work culture and team zoom calls just don’t cut it. Not wanting to axe the office completely, we also needed choice. Sometimes it can be hard to find a quiet space at home. Other times, it can feel like the four walls are closing in and you just need somewhere else to re-engage your brain. After 18 months of being locked away we also needed something to look forward to, an adventure of some sort to blow the cobwebs of being stuck at home away. Lastly we needed ease of access to the office, wherever it may be.
Feedback from staff made us aware of one thing, remote work was here to stay and so, with the work life balance needs of our staff we got to work creating the right policies to cater for the team’s needs.
Introducing our ClearStory Flex policy
From 1st July 2021 we formally adopted a new ‘Flexible Remote Work’ policy which we call ‘ClearStory Flex’. It’s aimed at giving staff choice but was also designed to improve operational effectiveness and team cohesion.
With ClearStory attending the office is not, and for the foreseeable, never will be mandatory for any staff member. We decided to maintain our existing offices and turn the space into hotdesk facilities instead so that our employees have a place they can go if and when they need it. We also recognise that geography isn’t as much of a barrier as it used to be and so we have opened up our recruitment across the country. Our latest hires come from Cork, Galway, Kilkenny with no mandatory requirement to move to Dublin.
On the last Friday of every month, we have a company day in our office where we have the opportunity to work and collaborate together, give team training or presentations and get out afterwards for drinks and dinner or even enjoy a half day to set off on our end of quarter parties. We subsidise hotel and travel costs for those coming from outside the commuter distance of Dublin too. We also issue an allowance every year for office equipment to pimp out home workspaces MTV cribs style.
Given that we’re open to hiring from anywhere in the country, we are also open to staff working from anywhere too so we allow working holidays. Have a holiday home and want to work from there? We’re open to it. Visiting family in a far flung place and need a few days working from there. No problem. We’re flexible.
The adventure element is something that accelerates our team culture and bonding experiences. We want staff to learn the most they can in the best way possible and carve out those all important connections with one another. As a result, all of our staff from Senior Account Executive level upwards are sent to major tech conferences across North America, Europe and Southeast Asia to build their journalist networks and spend time bonding together. We also take our team on a working holiday once a year, to sunnier climes to give them a break from their usual work environments and give their brains a dose of vitamin D.
This year, the entire team is off to sunny Lisboa in Portugal.We are extremely proud of our new work-life balance approach at ClearStory. Many people within the PR world have asked, how can they do that? Truth is, we believe in trusting our employees to work, deliver and learn, no matter what country they are in. Our tagline of ‘who in the world are you’ is based on an international mindset. To our staff it’s a matter of where in the world they can work from.
We have a range of career opportunities available so if you would like to join us on our journey feel free to email me directly at – firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your CV over on our careers page here.
Managing Director at ClearStory International
James McCann is CEO of ClearStory International, a Dublin based international tech PR agency working exclusively with early-stage startups from around the world. Before establishing ClearStory, James was a former PR Campaign Manager with Web Summit, responsible for attracting top tier media to the company’s events across Dublin, Lisbon, Bangalore and Hong Kong. He currently lectures on Digital PR to final year students at the Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.