How will we work in the future?
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we work forever. According to research by Microsoft, more than half the people they interviewed are intending to continue working remotely or in a hybrid model. The UK is also set to run one of the biggest ever trials of the four-day work week in June this year. So what does the future look like for the way we work? And what impact are these changes having on business? We spoke to one UK start-up that’s proudly ripping up the traditional HR rule book.
The world of business is in constant flux. The Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain shortages and a global economic downturn are creating one of the most challenging and uncertain environments for business in modern history.
The University of London’s BSc Business Administration aims to prepare students for these challenges and more. With a choice of four pathways, the degree, led by member institution, Royal Holloway, allows you to tailor your studies to your future career aspirations.
One of the pathways available is Business Administration with Human Resource Management, and with a huge evolution underway in the way we work, there’s never been a more interesting time to study the field of HR.
Talewind is a UK games studio working in Roblox. When industry veterans Mike Allender and Georgina Felce launched Talewind in 2021 they knew they wanted to stand out from the competition - both in what they produced and how they worked. Their team of 21 all work remotely and just four days a week.
Co-Founder Georgina is Chief Operations Officer and self-styled ‘Head of Happiness’. She explained why having a fully remote workforce was an easy decision.
As a pre-revenue start-up we’re very mindful of money. It’s far better to be investing in top talent than office space. Having an office limits your talent pool geographically and if you’re based in London you have to be competitive with London salaries. We’ve found that our team are much happier being 100% remote because it means they’re saving time and money on commuting and they’ve got more opportunity to engage with their communities, friends and family.
“We know it’s not for everyone. But we’re not trying to cater for everyone. It means we can really focus on what a Talewind employee looks like – we know exactly what we’re looking for and who will help elevate our team and culture.”
Katie Nurse joined Talewind in September last year as People Director. She described how their people-centred culture is good for business as well as their staff.
“Our culture is all about work-life balance. We’re people-first and that’s reflected in our actions and where we spend money. Not many other games studios offer fully remote working and a four day week, and it makes us attractive to such a wide talent pool across the whole UK, including parents and care-givers. In a hugely competitive environment the majority of our team have joined us organically though word-of-mouth. That’s because people like what we stand for, they like our values.”
The global increase in home-working has led to a rise in businesses installing employee monitoring software, taking screenshots at regular intervals throughout the day. Is this something Talewind are considering?
“Personally, I think it’s incredibly toxic,” Georgina said. “You have to build a business on trust and being 100% remote is us saying to our team ‘we trust you’. If you install a programme to check people are at their desk all day that completely defeats the point.”
A fully remote workforce creates new and interesting challenges and has changed the traditional roles of some of their team, as Katie explained.
“While other studios are having to create new policies around issues like Covid and hybrid working, we’ve got time to focus on people and culture. As a remote studio we’ve really had to focus on how to ensure the team feels connected and engaged and making sure there are strong communication avenues.”
From June to December 2022 the UK will be leading the largest ever trial of the four-day work week, with more than 3,000 employees at 60 companies working a shorter week for the same pay. In a similar trial in New Zealand, employee engagement rose by nearly 40%, while in Iceland they found reduced working hours maintained or increased productivity across all sectors of the economy.
Talewind is ahead of the curve on this front as well. Georgina explained why they are committed to a shorter work week, despite concerns raised by some of their investors.
As a budding start-up we had to think about how we were going to recruit these amazing people without initially offering benefits like private medical insurance. Having better work-life balance has been shown to have a positive impact on your health as well as reducing your carbon footprint and giving you more time to spend the money you work so hard to earn.
“With the ‘Great Resignation’ a lot of games studios are focussing on staff retention rather than assuming everyone is replaceable and I think that’s so important. For me, offering our team flexibility and greater work-life balance is a no-brainer.”
Talewind’s passion for its people is evident. So what advice have they got for other people interested in a rewarding career in HR?
People can be cynical about HR,” said Katie. “But it’s really important to understand you’re not just on the company’s side – you’re the guardian of the people. Of course you need to have the fundamental skills and knowledge. But ultimately you need to care about making people’s working lives better, so emotional intelligence and communication skills are just as important as a good knowledge of employment law.
Find out how you can be part of an evolution in the way we work, with the University of London’s BSc Business Administration.