Bdaily Festive Focus 2020: Rise at Seven co-founder Stephen Kenwright's opinions on remote work have "changed massively"
Today’s Bdaily festive focus takes a look at creative PR agency Rise at Seven, talking to COO and co-founder Stephen Kenwright.
Having been established for slightly more than a year, the company has spent more time in a pandemic than out of it, and Stephen talked to Bdaily about moving the new business to remote working.
How has 2020 changed the way that you live, work and think?
“Mostly I think that trends have been accelerated, not created, by the pandemic - so it hasn’t changed my thoughts.
“The world was moving online and away from the high street; society was becoming cashless; marketers were hiring specialist agencies and not generalists.
“My opinions on remote work have changed massively, though. Before the pandemic, we would have expected people to be in the office most - if not all - of the time, but even when we return to some level of normality we’ll be much more flexible than we would have.
“We’ve hired some remote employees, which we wouldn’t have done otherwise.”
What has been your single biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
“Overall we’ve been extremely lucky this year. We’re a very young business, so all our systems have been cloud-based since the day we started - and our office leases both came up in March - so we all just moved home.
“The challenge has been trying to make sure that we check in on everyone.
“When people are at home, they can be extremely quiet and you don’t know what they’re going through.
“Getting training and leadership in place where everyone is remote and the business is only a year old has been difficult - the feedback loop when we’re making changes is longer and messier.
“So I think that even though our systems were more ready for home working than more established businesses might have been…our people probably weren’t.”
What has been the biggest unexpected positive to come out of this year?
“The pandemic has meant that we’ve been able to pick up some incredible talent - people who might not have otherwise made themselves available or applied for jobs.
“It’s sad that in many cases people have been forced to find new work - but in others, working from home has meant that people have reassessed what they want from their 9-5.
“Covid has been around for more than half the time Rise at Seven has - and we opened our London office after about 6 months - so working apart is very normal for us, and so we can provide training and community in spite of this. That’s helped us to nearly triple in size since lockdown started.”
What does your ideal Christmas look like?
“We’ve only had one Christmas with Rise - we hired a cottage for the 11 staff we had at the time.
“We’d probably have taken the team away (even though there are 51 of us now). With current lockdown rules we’ll probably be celebrating remotely, though if we felt it was safe to get everyone together in the office, we’d do that. Just seeing family is a big plus!”
How do you think people and businesses can support each other during 2020’s festive season?
“Give people a break on social media. Cancel culture has gone into overdrive during the pandemic and this time of year people just feel it more, so be a little more supportive and say nice things or nothing at all.”
What does 2021 look like for you and your business?
“We grew more than 100 per cent year on year and we’re hoping to do the same again.
“We’re currently expanding our Sheffield office space, adding another 1,700 sq ft (including a mezzanine floor, so even more space) and I could see us filling it before the end of 2021, employing around 75 people in the city (and another 25 elsewhere).
“We grew so fast that we’re putting in process and structure as we go along, so our senior team is taking shape over the next few months, along with some key hires in employee experience, customer experience and creative…and we’re really proud of the awards we’ve won, but we’ve got a bathtub to fill with them so the work you’ll see coming out of Rise will be bigger and better than ever.”
Looking to promote your product/service to SME businesses in your region? Find out how Bdaily can help →
Enjoy the read? Get Bdaily delivered.
Sign up to receive our popular morning National email for free.