Hiring the best people, wherever they call home


Creating the best work for clients can only happen by hiring the best people – from wherever they call home.

When the Spanish prime minister called a snap general election this summer, two of our designers needed to get back home to vote. Rather than take annual leave, they used Working From (Another) Home, our initiative to extend the work/life balance to team members whose families live abroad. Narcis based himself in Barcelona in the week leading up to the polls (it happened to be his mum’s birthday, too), and Paula stayed on in Madrid after the election. For up to two weeks of the year, our team can work from “another” home outside their UK address. And politics doesn’t have to come into it.

WF(Another)H doesn’t affect our commitment to Without as a London-based studio. It’s our belief that, whilst the industry experiments with collectives of digital nomads, our best work for clients all come from being a committed team, collaborating in person. WF(Another)H does, however, help us to expand our talent pool to those who, whilst UK-based, want to stay connected to family outside the UK.

When we spoke to Hannah Law, founding partner of creative recruitment agency Tomorrow, she said initiatives like WF(Another)H are not yet industry-wide but could help agencies attract the best talent. “We have insight into a lot of hiring processes, where sometimes agencies can’t offer potential candidates the opportunity to work abroad. But by working out ways to make that happen could mean they hire the best person for the job,” she explains.

Specifically, someone with a global viewpoint, with diverse cultural references and sensitivities. We want to work with the best minds, not just the best minds in London. We like difference, an alternative voice. It’s what clients want, too, and having those qualities in a team delivers great work. Sometimes the effect is subtle and nuanced, other times it’s more direct. Last month, for example, we shared a new project for Sodexo, who commissioned us to reimagine corporate catering around the world, reestablishing canteens as vibrant, valuable assets. The result – Modern Recipe – has reshaped a business. Launched in Europe, the brand has now been rolled out to over 300 sites across the US and won the Grand Prix at the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards.

The reason we’re able to make initiatives like WF(Another)H work is because of the systems we have in place, not least when it comes to project management. Last year, one of our clients, Savoir’s marketing director Sarah Frederickson, said to us: “Creativity is a given – that’s why we take on a design agency. A great project manager is why we stay”.

Robust systems work the other way, too. Ollie Scott, founder of creative recruitment company Unknown, says that creating a unified studio that delivers the best work for clients is “90% an internal systems thing. If you can make someone feel special, organised and supported, they’ll act special. If you rope them in, brief them badly and treat them like a disposal service, then the work will look pretty disposable, too.”

He believes that too many job adverts are just lists of skills and responsibilities, “like some sort of human shopping list” and that agencies are missing a trick. “One day, we’d love it if every job board started with the human that’s actually reading it,” Ollie says. “The agencies that are winning the most diverse and valuable talent are the ones who are thinking about the experience that person is going to have.”

It’s curious to us how some in our industry are still tying themselves up in knots over hybrid working. There is no doubt in our minds that the best work for clients happens when talented people are in a room together, but only if those individuals – from wherever they call home – feel happy, supported and motivated.

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