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.