I always beat Andrew at Football*

Written by Julian Sykes

The development of a fun inquisitive culture within a small agency is a hard thing to juggle. Over the last eight years we have gone from setting up a company with a few clients and lots of time on our hands, to gaining clients and having less and less time on our hands. This is great as a company but the issue of time and space to think and create is at risk of being forgotten. We have been guilty of it within Hoffi on a number of occasions. So how do small agencies with large work loads make time for research, discovery and perspective?

In short it is not easy but here are a few pointers.

1. Eat Lunch away from your desk.
During the years we had slowly become drawn into the desk eating mentality of lunch. Each day had slowly made us sit at the desk consuming content off sites such as BBC and Guardian. But what we realised was it had stopped from actually doing what lunch is for. Having a break from work and socialising with each other. In more recent times we have made a conscious effort to get away from the computer and play some games over lunch we have a league and we are also socialising.

2. Create joint projects and try and make together.
We have always done this however more recently due to the workload it has taken a bit of a back seat. So once again we have started to spread our wings and start a project that we are all working on. This is great to bring people together, as well as allowing us to experiment and try things out that we preach.

3. Bring in new people and share space.
This year we have had a number of changes within the studio. For a long time we have felt that it would be good to increase our offer however for us as a branding company we have never wanted to dilute our offer. To this end we have been looking for companies that we can genuinely partner with. After many years of creating some strong associations we have also found that some companies do not have the same vision as us so this year we have welcomed yello brick into the studio. The diversity has already allowed us to work together on a number of projects and the general feel within the studio is very different.

4. Reward investigation.
This is the hardest thing to do. We have been primed to understand work as attendance and amount of time put in, and to some extent this is correct if you look at the 10,000 hour theory from Malcolm Gladwell. However the issue here is trust and also to realise that by people experimenting and then providing a culture that allows people to share things they have found, seen or even experienced is a great opportunity to learn and develop as individuals as well as a company.

5. Interrupt often
So this one I stole form Pervasive Media Studio, but then realised that we have always done this by how we have positioned the studio. We have always sat on the same desk even from the early days. It has always allowed us to make eye contact with each other and ultimately allowed people to ask questions and interrupt. There are many occasions that we over hear each other and add something to that conversation a perspective or viewpoint even an experience or story. This allows our work to be stronger but also the culture of allowing people to interrupt is also very important.

Hope some of these point have struck accord

*If I am honest I probably beat Andrew as much as he beats me in FIFA.