Along with being a social change communications agency working exclusively with good causes, Shape History has always sought to embrace a culture of social entrepreneurship; breaking traditional agency conventions which stifle morale, creativity & authenticity.
We started our company 4 years ago, instilling a remote-working culture with the team based each day either from home or from coffee shops dotted across various global cities. Within 6 months, partner demands & a growing infrastructure quickly meant that relying solely on this style of working became unsustainable. Picture trying to host representatives from the United Nations on a coffee table in the cafeteria of a busy London cinema. Couple that with the lingering smell of popcorn & the chatter of kids leaving the latest screening of Mad Max. Time for a new environment? We agreed.
“When you change your work environment, it’s has the same effect as travelling to work using a different road. It stops you diverting to auto-pilot, breaks your comfort zones & keeps your brain fully conscious.”
The core ethos of growing a social enterprise, redefining what it means to be mindful of client resources, meant frugality was high on our priority list. In short, not having a roof over our heads allowed us to get up & running with limited resources super quickly. But as dynamic and, let’s say adventurous as it was working from museums, coffee shops & even from the comfort of our own homes — we needed a base.
As we’ve grown over the last 4 years, with now a team of 15 strategists & campaigners on staff; predictability of income together with deeper relationships within the third & social-good sectors has meant investing in a fully serviced office in London’s Chancery Lane is the smarter option. More than that, the quality of campaigns & communications produced, fuelling impact to organisations (be that policy change, fundraising or pure storytelling), demands that exceptional space & facilities are provided for the team to work within.
Despite the constant stream of change and evolution throughout the last four years, one thing remains consistent & that’s the ethos behind working from home. We have kept this alive on Fridays. A large part of the organisation’s vision is based on the belief that if you shape history for other people, you will start to see positive changes in your own life. In short, by working as part of Shape History’s team, we aim to provide you with opportunities to work on yourself and shape your own life’s history. We live out this goal every day with various policies, procedures & programs, including our 10% History Shaper program. This gives the team flexibility to work on passion projects. Working from home each Friday remains a small token of both trust & flexibility which helps our family to become better all-round campaigners.
To make this Friday home-working actually work in practice, you must be crystal clear in your communications with team members, have robust project management established to support delivery & become resourceful in finding other ways to collaborate with clients, partners & coworkers. You might be wondering why Shape History makes such an effort to keep this alive. The answer is quite straight-forward. Giving team members the space to get stuff done in their own way, be that professional or personal, helps live out our true values of respecting & accommodating those who give their time each day to ‘Shape History’.
The results speak for themselves. The power of Shape History as an organisation is truly respecting & valuing each of our team members contribution — both in terms of skillset but also in campaigning experience, insight & interest. This now means that many of the team work from each other’s homes on Fridays, arrange to meet up at coffee shops together & some have begun choosing to work from the office if they feel it is needed.
The core principle of why this will work for any service-related business, is that remote-working allows freedom of thought to flourish whilst simultaneously challenging conventional work practices. When you change your work environment, it has the same effect as travelling to work using a different road. It stops you diverting to auto-pilot, breaks your comfort zones and keeps your brain fully conscious.
Don’t just rely on the ramblings of a passionate CEO; there’s also some science behind this. Homeostasis is the human body’s natural urge to keep things the same, balanced, repetitive, all the time. It’s what keeps your body temperature at 37.5°C. That’s why it’s incredibly difficult to fight against your body’s natural instincts to keep things consistent and habitual; our brains crave it as an inherited survival tactic. But if you can change your surroundings, if only once a week, your brain is never fully settled, never fully able to switch off to the opportunities around you; and your business will grow quicker with your team feeling so much more trusted.