It quickly became the go-to working model when the pandemic hit. The business world leapt into remote working, and those who could were encouraged to shuffle things around in their spare room, dining room, lounge, garage – wherever there was space – so they could work from the comfort of home.
While catching up around the water cooler soon turned into quick 10-minute Teams calls, it didn’t stay that way for very long. In recent months, there’s been a resurgence of people heading back into the office and in-person meetings brought back to life — partly by choice, partly due to company policy.
Here at Wellknown, our working model will always be hybrid, and we join thousands of teams across the country (and indeed, the world) who are adapting the remote-working model to make it work for them.
Here’s how our hybrid working policy informs our company culture.
Developing the Wellknown working culture
Wellknown entered the digital learning space as a small but mighty team comprising power couple Hannah and Adam Palin. As a result, for years the company culture has revolved around our founding duo’s own personal values, ethics and purpose.
The same can be said today, although there are now four additional full-time team members, with two more joining us in July. As a result, the Wellknown company culture is ever-evolving as we continue to learn about each other and adapt our ways of working to make sure everyone can work comfortably, confidently and creatively.
As well as shaping our culture, the team’s expansion has informed our messaging and strategic realignment following our recent rebrand (which you can read more about here).
That being said, whilst there’s a great deal of change underway in Wellknown HQ, there’s one thing that will always remain: our position as a remote-first employer. Here’s why…
Why we’re remote-first
Our reasons for remaining remote-first are threefold. Simply, our aim is:
1. To attract the best talent
We know there are thousands of passionate, talented digital learning designers and e-learning experts out there who could enhance our team.
That’s why we’ve widened our recruitment pool beyond the beautiful old milltown where our HQ is based to encompass all those professionals who are excited to share their knowledge, but aren’t within commuting distance of our offices.
2. To be more inclusive
We recognise that commuting into the office isn’t ideal, or even possible, for everyone.
We aim for inclusivity across the board — in the practices that inform our approach to digital learning design, in the way we work, and in the solutions we deliver to learners. Offering the option for our team members to work remotely is just a small decision that delivers huge impact and enables us to enact our inclusivity initiatives.
3. Because we work to live, we don’t live to work
We’ve all been slaves to tyrannical bosses, 40-hour working weeks and daily hour-long commutes, and we’re just not up for it anymore. It’s not conducive to creativity, productivity, or general wellbeing and happiness.
Here at Wellknown, empowering our employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance is a top priority. That’s why, in addition to supporting personal and professional development goals with a training budget and weekly learning hours, we’ve adopted flexible, remote working and a four-day working week.
The challenges of hybrid working
Whilst we truly believe that hybrid working is the way forward (and we have no intention of changing), that isn’t to say we haven’t come across any challenges…
Main challenge #1 — Collaboration
The nature of our work is collaborative, which can be tricky when we’re not all in the same room together.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools in our techstack that enable us to get our heads together, plan out work, converse, create, and deliver feedback as a team (thank you Loom, ClickUp, Slack, GDrive and Zoom!).
Main challenge #2 — Employee onboarding
Recent expansion in the team has encouraged us to consider our onboarding process for new employees. With the hybrid working model in place, the fear is that it doesn’t necessarily give everyone the opportunity to fully integrate with the rest of the team, particularly in those nerve-wracking early days. The fact that the majority of our team members work fully remotely adds another complication to the mix.
So far, we’ve been combatting this with:
- Dedicated Slack channels that our team members can subscribe to to share their common interests (cue angry rants about the patriarchy in our beloved #book-chat)
- Catch-up Mondays, where we spend 20 minutes sharing our experiences from the previous weekend (with extra kudos for accompanying pictures!)
- An ask-me-anything approach, because there’s no such thing as a stupid question
Additionally, we like to get together in person once a month (also known as the Wellknown monthly away day).
The Wellknown monthly away day
The Wellknown monthly away day has quickly become the highlight of the team calendar, giving us the opportunity to get together in-person in Manchester’s beautiful Northern Quarter and catch-up, create and collaborate.
“Once a month, each member of the team jumps on a train or hits the road and heads over to our co-working space at 49 Piccadilly,” says Lolli, our Editor & Communications Lead.
“The day usually kicks off with everyone catching up over coffee before we get stuck into addressing the agenda. Project updates, big-picture plans, team news, process refinement and internal realignment — whatever it is, the away day gives us the chance to put any topic on the table and open up the conversation so that everyone can contribute and collaborate in the same space.”
“I really enjoy connecting with the team and brainstorming strategies in person,” says Emily, our Digital Learning Designer. “When we get together, the room feels energised and it’s inspiring to see team members enthusiastically contributing and bouncing ideas off each other. It always feels like a real team effort and we manage to get so much done (with the help of snacks, of course!).
“I think it’s so important to connect with each other. At the end of the day, we’re human beings, not job titles (that’s our whole approach!), so it’s always great to hear about hobbies, interests, holidays and weekend plans.
“It all feeds into how we work together, because when you’re collaborating remotely on a task, you then see your team member as a person with their own passions, and sometimes hardships, so we treat each other with dignity, respect and compassion.”
“The Wellknown monthly away day is definitely an important event to have in our calendar as it gives us all a change of scenery,” says Austen, a Wellknown Digital Learning Developer. “Working from home can be a bit of an isolating experience sometimes, so this is a great opportunity to get out of the house and meet up with the rest of the remote-working team.
“Our away day always takes place on a Thursday, which is the last working day of the week for us. It’s great because we all come away feeling refreshed, energised and motivated, excited to enjoy the weekend and return on Monday ready to hit the ground running again.”
“The away day definitely helps the team build stronger relationships,” says Annie, our Graphic Designer. “Being able to work in the same space, get to know everyone better and gain an understanding of everyone’s strengths and skills — it’s all information and experience that we take forward and allow to inform the work we put out as a team.
“My favourite thing about the away day is the social boost you get after chatting all day, whether it be about work, weekend plans or personal interests (mid-century headwear and ‘how we met’ stories were two of the topics that cropped up last time!). Lunch is always great too — it’s nice to get together over some delicious food and just reconnect and bond as a team away from the working space.”
Learn more about how we work.
Interested in learning more about the Wellknown culture and how it contributes to our work, our processes and our approach? Read all about it here.