How and why we’re decentralising the workplace next summer

At Publish Interactive we think of ourselves as a pioneering business. We develop industry-leading publishing software, but we’re also keen to push boundaries in terms of workplace culture. 

In short, we produce the best software we can but, as part of that process, we also want to make our employees happier and more productive people. 

So, how do we do that? 

One specific approach we’ve adopted is to move from a ‘traditional’ organisation towards something that seems less like the approach of a 19th century factory.  

Trust is central to how we organise. We don’t dictate to staff how and where they should work, or how they should organise, we simply ask that they meet their commitments and perform in a way the rest of the team might expect. 

This approach can sound slight, but in fact it’s very powerful. In fact, it’s empowering. We have liberated our teams and at the same time given them the responsibility to regulate themselves. We don’t need a hierarchical approach as our people set and manage their own projects. 

Now, this sounds very idealistic, but it works in the real world because we have self-motivated and conscientious people working on staff. Also – and this is no small thing – technology has enabled us to take this approach. 

After years of running various meeting, messenger, and VOIP applications, we have finally moved the company onto Microsoft Teams. The move has improved the way we manage our projects and made it significantly easier for us to adopt the kind of workplace culture to which we aspire. 

Work away in the summer 

As of next year, we want to experiment with a programme where employees can decamp for one or two weeks in the summer, should their circumstances allow. We want to encourage people to go anywhere (we imagine it would be a similar time zone) but still work in the usual way. The ultimate aim is to enable flexible working throughout the school holidays; so one to two weeks is just a first step. 

There are conditions: people will have to be involved in our Monday standup meeting, they will have to have a dedicated workspace with a desk, and they must continue to meet their usual deadlines and commitments. It would be work, just somewhere where people could be near to friends, family, or their leisure interests, and therefore enjoy a better balance with work (and also without the need to spend time commuting). 

We would also like to encourage groups of employees (should they wish) to go together and set up pop-up hubs for the duration. If several people were to go to the same place, that could enable pooling to pay for a nanny or other local benefits. 

The final point is that we wouldn’t want to limit these hubs to just being for Publish Interactive people. It would be our great pleasure to welcome people from other businesses into the mix. These could be friends, family members, or significant others of any kind. 

Small firm, big change 

Even though we’re a small business, we’re trying to challenge some of the drudgery that all-to-often (unnecessarily so, in our opinion) comes hand-in-glove with a job. 

Technology presents many opportunities for business, but the one that is most often overlooked or poorly implemented is the opportunity to decentralise the working world and to make everyone’s lives just that little bit more content. 

That’s all we’re trying to do here… make our people feel happier, better rested, and hopefully more productive as a result.

Publish Interactive awarded its third US patent

Publish Interactive was recently awarded its third US patent covering technology we have created as part of the ongoing development of our iReports platform.

Naturally, we’re delighted about the award that came through in the early part of the year. It stands as recognition of all the hard work put in by our development team and demonstrates our absolute commitment to maintaining iReports as the market intelligence community’s leading solution for the distribution and management of research insights, analysis, data, and news.

The fact that we now have three patents shows we had a good initial idea and, in the intervening years since that was recognised through a first patent award, we haven’t rested on our laurels. In fact, we’ve ramped up the innovation and, as a result, gained two further awards.

As we provide our customers with systems and features that are wholly unique, we need patents to protect not only those innovations, but to safeguard our ability to continue pushing forward with newer and newer technology for the future.

A patent, for us, protects our investment in the next few years of development. It helps set the programme for the years to come and helps lay the foundations for the array of new and exciting technology we’ll be able to offer our customers.

Our first patent award covered the integration of different data types used in market intelligence; how disparate sets of information could be brought together into one document to enable a unified workflow. The second covered a technical solution for easily allotting and commercialising analysts’ time, enabling an agency where enquires to the analyst are charged for.

Our latest award really shows how the nature of the market intelligence world is moving because it relates to ‘evergreen’ content – that’s products compiled from multiple sources that automatically updates when the underlying elements on which it is based moves.

The interesting thing about our patents is how they reflect our ramping up of innovation. Patent applications are made once a development is under way, but during the application process the innovation doesn’t stop, technology is developed further. It’s made increasingly sophisticated so when it’s introduced into customer systems, it adds a wholly new level of functionality to their product.

Market intelligence firms use our product for two principal reasons: they want access to the most sophisticated and intuitive technology available, in the knowledge that this technology will remain at the cutting edge through our constant innovation; or, they understand that it is much better value to license the leading platform, rather than try to keep up with the escalating costs of meeting increasingly sophisticated user expectations if they develop their own platform.

For customers, the fact that we’re constantly making this investment in the future should be endlessly reassuring: this means we’re developing creative technical solutions to real world problems and continuously innovating our product so that it works in a simple, intuitive way.

If the next 12 years are anything like the dozen that have just passed, we’ll continue to build on our legacy of innovation and look forward to many more exciting developments in the years to come.

How Seth (the work experience student) helped drive our business forward

A little while ago, we told you how two members of our team visited a local school to deliver a talk about Publish Interactive and, more generally, about working in the technology and software development business.

Following that talk, we were contacted by the teacher who’d arranged the whole thing to ask if we’d be willing to have a student join us for a work placement. The Year 10 student is keen on a career in avionics and was interested in coming to us for two weeks to gain a greater insight into how a software development business might work.

As we love taking on interns and work experience students, and helping them gain confidence and knowledge, we jumped at the chance. So, last month, Seth joined us for two weeks.

Now, what commonly happens on work experience is that the student is given a series of tasks to complete that have been hanging around the business for some time. These are often little more than chores. This wasn’t the case for Seth because he had skills our business could put to use.

So, we thought, why not give him something to do that was of use to both him – and us?

“I knew I would be able to do something related to programming, but I didn’t know specifically what that would be,” said Seth.

“On my first day, Paul [Popat, developer] talked me through what I needed to do – that was to build case studies of how customers could use the APIs that Publish Interactive has created.

“Paul gave me examples of what to programme then I got started. I learned a lot about C# as I went and Paul taught me better ways to code, useful shortcuts. C# is similar to Java, which I know how to programme, so it wasn’t that difficult to use.

“For each case study, I would code, then submit my code to GitHub [software development platform] where it could be viewed by Paul; he could then suggest changes which I would then implement, then transfer from my GitHub to the company’s GitHub area.”

During his two weeks with Publish Interactive, Seth developed several different case studies which have since been made available for customers to use, adapt, or take as reference points when they implement APIs from iReports.

“I found my time at Publish Interactive really useful,” added Seth. “I learned new things I can take away and use in my own programming projects and I was able to contribute. Hopefully, what I have learned will make it easier for me to learn other programming languages too.”

We’re delighted that Seth found his time with us useful, because we were just as pleased with his contribution. To have a young person come in and contribute ‘real’ work that helps our business to deepen and enhance its relationship with customers is no small feat.

Thank you, Seth. It was a pleasure having you here!

Inspiring young minds: passing on our technology knowledge

Besides supplying world-leading software, one of the other things we like to do here at Publish Interactive is to get involved, on many levels, with people and organisations in our local community.

As a software business, we’re particularly keen on opportunities where we can help young people understand how they could build a career in the technology sector.

Just before Christmas it was the good fortune that I was invited into a local school to talk to two group of technology students (GCSE and Year 10 students) about both those subjects.

For the talk, I took along colleague Polly, who is a developer with Publish Interactive, as we wanted to provide students with a rounded idea of how academic studies translate into actual work. We also wanted to show how the world of technology and computing wasn’t just something for young male students to aspire towards.

Often, it’s difficult for young people to make the mental leap from classroom studies to the application of these theories in the real world. It’s tough for them to imagine that line from exam success to university or college and on through apprentices and placements to a fully-paid job.

We wanted to make this process seem as logical and straightforward as it can be. We aimed to show it is achievable and not out of reach, in the way that some might perceive it.

To that end, Polly talked about the unconventional route she took to a career in technology (Polly started with a Maths degree and slowly gravitated towards Computer Science) while I talked about our company, its ethos, and how our iReports solution fills a specific business need.

The talks must have made and impression as, earlier this year, we were contacted by the teacher who had arranged the event, as one of the students was sufficiently interested to request work experience with us.

The young man in question will be joining us for a fortnight soon after which, I have no doubt, we’ll be able to tell you more about the projects he contributed to and what he was able to get out of his time working for an upwardly-mobile technology business.

Thanks to everyone @ Leeds University’s Jobs and Internship Fair

A big thank you to the organisers of Leeds University’s Spring Graduate Jobs and Internship Fair that we attended earlier this month – it was a fruitful day for us and hopefully for all the amazing students we met!

The purpose of our visit was two-fold: to understand the types of roles graduates are keen to move into; and to find talented people who would like to work with us in fulltime, part-time, or internship positions.

With more than 2,000 people in attendance, we were overwhelmed by the volume of interest we were able to generate in Publish Interactive and our world-leading software development.

Overall, we found that students are looking for roles in:

  • Development
  • Client-facing positions
  • Marketing

With each of these disciplines, people are keen for jobs that would allow them to be creative…

Well, that suits us just fine.

In the coming weeks, we’ll review the applications that were submitted and start to contact people who were keen to join us.

So, if that’s you, just hold tight – and we’ll be in touch shortly.