Barns Bulletin #7: April
April’s been a busy month at The Barns, filled with big wins, exciting trips, and of course, plenty of pizza.
Opinion | Freddie Orme
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It's an exciting Monday in The Barn! Please welcome our newest #workexperience Freestyler, Freddie! We are excited to get to know Freddie a little bit more, see what his interests are and allow him to become fully immersed in the Freestyle culture. Welcome to The Barn Freddie! 🤠
"I could write a blog that describes all the practical business skills such as data analytics, digital marketing and project management, that I’ve learnt during my time at Freestyle. Although these are all incredibly valuable and I will definitely carry into my future careers, this week I feel I’ve gained a more important kind of experience - how a business should run.
There was a certain set of criteria I had when I was deciding where I was going to try and gain some work experience. It wasn’t a very extensive list. As far as career paths, I have very little preference and no doors closed, so my ‘criteria’ was essentially two requirements: the business seemed at least a little interesting, and it would challenge and inform me on careers and work styles I would like to pursue after uni. This is where my dad suggested Freestyle. He already knew the founders, Suzanne and Alan, from previous business years, and they instantly came to mind when thinking about businesses that would be interesting, friendly and challenge the western business stereotype of office cubicles and grey boardrooms. In fact, when I opened their website for the first time, I could see that they had made it their initiative to change this culture: The digital agency for non-sexy businesses.
Reading this sentence instantly caught my interest. When I thought marketing, I imagined internet pop-ups, billboards and the Go-Compare opera singer. I had never considered how the ‘non-sexy businesses’ of the world have to make their dull, complex yet still essential products visible and appealing to an audience. I shot off an application email the same day.
My expectations for my first day were unsure. A little bit of me expected to walk into a dreary scene from The Office, as this is what I’d been led to believe the working environment was like.
Image credit: IMDB
However, walking into Freestyle’s ‘Barns’ was a joy.
Natural light, music and smiling people greeted me, making me instantly less nervous. Throughout the week, I settled in and managed to dip my toes into every aspect of what Freestyle has to offer. By Wednesday, I realised that the culture of this company should be the envy of any business that employs people. The flat business structure drives out hierarchies and encourages communication and integration, the relaxed dress code maintains an approachable atmosphere, but most importantly for me was the faith and independence in the people to get the work done. People aren’t treated like resources, who must be utilised from 9-5 in order to maximise their output and increase profits. They are allowed freedom to work in their own style, entrusted to get the work done.
This glowing realisation may have been influenced by the fact that Wednesday is, of course, Wings Wednesday (25p per wing!), but this culture was really driven home to me in the name of the business, ‘Freestyle’. Inspired by her swimming background, Suzanne explained to me that the Freestyle stroke allows you to use any method you please to move through the water from A to B. If you perform badly, you can either alter your current technique or transfer to a different methodology altogether. This freedom to utilise your own strengths to achieve an object in the most efficient way possible is why I am now convinced that when appropriate, installing trust and independence into your employees is the best way to run a business. No wonder Freestyle won the SME award in business culture!
I’m going into my last year of A levels, and wish to study History at university, and unlike many of my friends who are set on being a doctor or an architect etc, I am still unsure of a career path. This is not something that concerns me. After all, 85% of all jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet (according to IFTF). Yet this was laid to rest further by my week at Freestyle. I learnt that some of the employees didn’t know what they wanted to be 6 months ago, let alone when they were 17. I learnt that the professional world is less rigid than I expected, and people flow between careers and discover interests in the workspace. Although I’m still not set on a career (and nor do I want to be), I discovered areas of work which I could potentially go into. Project management is a potential career that I’ve been told I’d be good at, and my session with Project Manager, Joe, was definitely a highlight of the week. I learned about the two methodologies for PM; waterfall (Gantt) and agile as well as the skills used in that line of work, further making me believe that my strengths may be well suited to a career in PM.
In the future, I aspire to gain a degree in History and enjoy my uni years. I want to find a career that I enjoy and gain an income from pursuing my interests. The most important lesson I learnt this week is actually pretty cliche and fairly obvious. The enjoyment of your time at work is more important than the money it brings. A career takes up the biggest portion of your life, so why make that portion miserable? This reasoning is why I aspire to find a career at a place with a similar culture to Freestyle.
Thank you to the Freestyle team for making me feel so welcomed and making my short time here as productive and enjoyable as possible. "