The dictionary definition of ‘emerging’ is to… ‘come forth into view or notice, as from concealment or obscurity – like a ship emerging from the fog.’ 14 months ago Poem wasn’t concealed or obscured; it just didn’t exist. Today we’re sailing hard like we’ve been in business for the last five years, working with the likes of Google, Expedia, Cartoon Network and The Cancer Council. And amazingly, through all this hard work, we’ve been noticed. A couple of weeks ago we sat at the Mumbrella Awards with all our peers as finalists for Emerging Agency Of The Year, against The Special Group and Emotive; two highly successful Australian agencies that we hugely admire. What a privilege and reward for what’s already been the best year of our careers. Our friends at Special took home the final honours, but that didn’t stop us from celebrating like we’d won, because we still felt like we had.
A couple of weeks ago we celebrated completing Poem’s 1st year of business by taking the whole team skydiving. Is that weird? It’s definitely not normal, but we figured we had to do something epic to match what’s been an epic year. We were all up in that plane together. We jumped out one after the other. We shared that stomach churning anticipation followed by the exhilaration of landing and the three day high that follows. It was truly the best thing that I’ve done at work with colleagues and for some, it was a real personal challenge and life changing experience. What is strange though for me, is that it’s led to a whole lot of thoughts in my head about what a work place’s role in its staffs’ lives should be and where to draw the boundary.
My first media world job was in London fifteen years ago at Freud Communications. I was there for over five years predominantly because I had great mates there, I knew the work was forward thinking and the place inspired me. We worked hard, played hard and Matthew Freud, the owner did some kick ass motivational talks. I wouldn’t say it helped grow me as a person, but it was a key stage of my life and gave me a good work ethic. Since then I’ve worked for a total of four other companies until deciding to start Poem, however they’ve all been steps up on the career ladder as opposed to life changing periods.
I wonder whether there is actually a role for companies to have in staff’s personal growth rather than just career. Can we be more than just a wage, fair working environment and career progression? Can we inspire and encourage staff to be more and develop as people? I don’t know. Maybe not as we grow bigger. But right know I feel like we have an opportunity to do something amazing. I’m not saying it’s about extreme sports at a once a year party. But since we’re starting from scratch, can we build in ways to give staff more trust, flexible time, annual leave without policies. I think my biggest bug bear about climbing the career ladder, has been the policy on a 20 day a year holiday allowance with two weeks maximum to be taken at any one time. It limits you to holidays as opposed to meaningful travel experiences that can’t be had within just two weeks. We want to change that.
Everything is changing (I guess everything always is), however right now because of new technology, commonplace high speed internet and changing demands of a Millennial generation, it feels like we’ve hit a real high step change, which a lot of established agencies are struggling to see over. I’m hoping that agency and career life changes for the better and that we manage to break the restrictive mould that’s existed in offices since the 60s. Being a year old I reckon we’re in a good position to help that change happen.