Article | Eleanor Dubédat
Barns Bulletin #12: September
In September, we've been out and about at conferences, getting stuck into training events and even welcomed a new face to the Barns!
Article | Eleanor Dubédat
One we accidentally missed out last month…
Our finance gurus, Claire and Sarah M., went to the Professional Accountancy 2019 event at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham.
Fun fact: it’s currently the UK’s most comprehensive Accountancy and Finance event, giving us all the low-down on corporate finance and related topics. They attended seminars and masterclasses delivered by the profession’s most esteemed speakers and learnt all about the latest news and updates on Employment Law, VAT, Budgeting, Employment Status and employer’s responsibilities on work related stress. It sounded like a packed day and they came away with lots of great information to enhance their existing knowledge and our awareness of upcoming changes in the workplace. Nice one ladies! 👏
First off in October, Founder & MD, Suzanne, and Head of People & Culture, Emma, visited the Employee Benefits Live at ExCel in London. They went to gather some insight and inspiration around the current perks and benefits package offered at Freestyle. Whilst the event was perhaps aimed at bigger, more corporate setups, they came back with some great take-aways around culture, well-being and mental health.
Here are some highlights from the event:
- On Social well-being; one of the talks covered the importance of strong connections in the workplace. It’s safe to say that we’re really proud to have an outstanding team of people here at Freestyle, who are collaborative and supportive in their approach and who all genuinely, really get on.
- On Financial well-being; the focus at this year’s event was around financial well-being and education. It recognised that ensuring that people have the right tools and knowledge to manage their personal finances is increasingly important, which has given Suzanne and Emma some real food for thought when re-visiting the current perks and benefits offering at the agency.
- On Health and well-being; they saw some very innovative approaches to health and well-being in the workplace (both physical and mental health). From online GP apps to food tolerance testing and ways to support people in their fitness goals – lots more great ideas for them to look into and start working on with the wider team at Freestyle.
Overall, this event was a real eye-opener on workplace values, and reiterated just how fortunate we are to have bespoke perks and benefit offerings that work for our people, and for what matters to them.
Following on from that, we hosted our first roundtable session on Imposter Syndrome and a group of us met up over lunch in the studio to discuss what it is, why we feel it and tips to overcome it or even use to our advantage. It was a really productive session, encouraging everyone to take part and share their pearls of wisdom.
Sarah M. and Claire put down their calculators and closed their spreadsheets once again, to attend the Being Well Festival at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. The Festival - which marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month - encourages people to lead happier, healthier lives by making simple changes to their lifestyle with better nutritional choices, increased physical activity and mindfulness, whatever their individual circumstances.
BBC presenter Mary Rhodes hosted the day, and highlights included a keynote speech from journalist Satnam Rana who had vlogged her cancer treatment journey. She then hosted an inspirational live Q&A with TV presenter Simon Thomas alongside You, Me & The Big C podcast’s Lauren Mahon and Steve Bland. Sarah and Claire had the opportunity to shop at a wellbeing marketplace, learnt about the benefits of aromatherapy & massage, and indulged in some healthy snacks before receiving a blessing from a Buddhist monk, taking part in a group meditation session and watching a live cookery demonstration!
As part of World Mental Health Day on 10th October, we hosted a Tea & Talk session in the studio which turned out to be really successful. The concept of Tea & Talk was set up by the Mental Health Foundation and is very simple: taking some time in the day to have a break & chat with our co-workers alongside some tasty treats 🍰 We had a great hour or so talking about everything from mental health to debating what our favourite biscuit is… A few of us baked some delicious cakes (think lemon drizzle and chocolate fudge slices), but also brought in some crowd pleasers from the shops!
It felt really valuable to take part in this initiative for Mental Health Awareness and acknowledge how it affects most of us at some points in our lives. Just taking a few minutes to really check in with someone can make a world of difference and breaking down the stigma of mental health at work is more important than ever. We’ll definitely aim to host these more regularly and not just once a year!
Following on from the success of National Fitness Day/Week in September….we’re pleased to say that we’re making it a regular thing! From now on, everyone in the office can push back their start time by up to an hour once a month, in order to allow them a bit more time to get active before work. Whether that would be taking advantage of a quieter gym, doing a longer run, or enjoying a more relaxed yoga session, we all have the chance to stay active and take extra care of our bodies and minds! 🏃♀️🏊🏽♂️🧘♀️🏋🏻♂️🚴♂️🧗🏽♀️🤾🏼♂️🤸🏻♂️
Lots of us have been busy putting our creative caps on this month and taking part in the ‘Steal a Day’ initiative. The concept is all about channeling our inner creativity out of the office and challenging ourselves to explore something different, as part of our own development. We’re encouraged to ‘Steal a Day’ once in a while and do something which inspires us and that we can utilise in our work, here at Freestyle.
Digital Executive, Georgia, takes the cake for spending her day roaming around London and soaking up the cultural scene. Her first stop was at the Tate Modern, to see Olafur Eliasson’s exhibition In Real Life, exploring Eliasson’s perspective on the environment and climate change. The exhibition, which includes large scale installations, encourages the attendees to become in-touch with all their senses. Georgia's second visit of the day was at The Store X to see Other Spaces. Created by United Visual Artists and in collaboration with the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, the exhibition combined light and sound to create mesmerising and multi-sensory experiences.
Georgia came away from her day in London feeling enlightened (excuse the pun) and ready to get even more creative 🎨
We had a blast at Tonic 04 which took place during Birmingham Tech Week at the Botanist in Birmingham, with the theme being ‘Decoding Complex Customer Experiences’.
Our next event, Tonic 05, is on Thursday 23rd January 2020 between 6pm-8pm, so grab your tickets quickly before they go! #TalkListenMix 🍸
Tonic 05 is all about ‘Humanising the digital experience’ and finding out exactly how other brands have made their experiences more human in order to stand out and create market advantage. If this sparks your interest and is relevant to your business, then please click here to learn more and register to attend: https://talklistenmix.com/event/tonic05
A bunch of Freestylers headed to the big city and attended the AI and design conference for digital leaders - Interact London 2019. Running for its 6th consecutive year, the comprehensive UX event which took place in the swanky National History Museum, was a jam-packed day of speakers giving their take on this year’s theme: The Human & The Machine. 🤖
Aside from the incredible location, G and Perry’s favourite moment was Ben Scott-Robinson, Founder of the Small Robot Company, speaking about the very real possibilities of us living with robots - they could even be the next farmers and make farming more profitable! Ben’s highlight on the other hand, was listening to Triona Butler, Experience Design Lead at Google, talk about the increased responsibilities faced when designing smart products for the home.
Our brilliant Client Services Director, Kay, stepped in as a Tech Mentor at the TeenTech ‘City of Tomorrow’ event in Leicester, who run interactive STEM* events for young people. The event itself was an immersive day helping young teens who may never have considered careers in science and technology, understand why they might enjoy working in these areas. Kay spent the day partnered with an awesome and outgoing bunch of 9-10 year olds, from a primary school in Loughborough, looking at the impact STEM subjects could have on their future.
They started off the day programming a mini moon rover, Kay introduced them to 3D printers, IBM then let everyone peek at their cyber security facility through VR headsets, they even had a go at solving a series of maths problems, and also made slime as a team! It sounded like a really well-spent, full-day of activities, helping young minds bridge the gap between technology and their understanding of what a career looks like in the sector. It just goes to show, you don’t have to be a developer to work in technology! 🖥 🎮 💾
*STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
We excitedly announced that our truly inspiring MD, Suzanne Linton, was the first guest on the new Vodcast channel Agencyphonics. Suzanne braved the unknown and talked to Spencer Gallagher from Agencynomics, on everything from how Freestyle got started and the banning of timesheets, all the way up to running an agency and being better than yesterday. It’s a long one but definitely worth a watch/ listen!
Check it out for yourself here and let us know your thoughts: https://bit.ly/2AXuCuS
Plus, don’t forget to subscribe to the Agencyphonics YouTube channel to stay up to date with all their latest content. 🎙
We’re proud to say that a few of our Account Managers recently completed their MAAG ‘Excellence in Account Management’ course in London. Hats off to Sarah B., Jake and Elliott, for staying committed and doing so well! 🎓
October welcomed a highly anticipated new starter, Dan Archer 🎉 Dan joins us as Marketing Director at Freestyle and has previously worked agency side running marketing & events for the Bullring in Birmingham, as well as spending quite a few years in commercial radio. He’s also the current Marketing Director for Birmingham Tech Week.
In his spare time, Dan likes going to the gym and playing golf. Originally from Newcastle, he’s passionate about rugby and supports the Newcastle Falcons 🦅 He’s also into Italian food and the colour blue but dislikes hangovers, cauliflower and rude people - we’re definitely with you on that one, Dan!
Welcome to Freestyle Dan, we’re so pleased to have you onboard!
Our Sheepies winner this month is… drum roll please 🥁…. Rohini! Rohini has been an invaluable asset to the business in her Account Director role, always showing brilliant client craft, growing her portfolio and relentlessly pursuing new projects. Great job Ro, very well deserved! 🏆
Spooky Season was upon us and we loved taking part in Halloween at The Barns 🎃👻💀 As well as going pumpkin picking and decorating the office, we hosted a pumpkin carving competition and awarded some ‘Spooky Prizes’ for the best ones at our ‘Pumpkin Ceremony’ (yes, we do take these things very seriously).
Here are the categories and their deserving winners:
Plus, we filmed a very spooky short film, making use of the haunted house next door 👻 Go to our Instagram IGTV to watch it in full @freestyleint 'The Haunting of Harwoods House'
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