25/09/2020

10 tips on how to work from home (effectively)

So, you’ve recently found out you’re working remotely?  

Well, us too. As of tomorrow, 22 Group will be working from home. Luckily for us, this is something we’re pretty used to. Part of our company culture involves flexible hours, including the option of working from home once a week.

Of course, this scale of remote working is pretty unprecedented, so we’re still trying to get our heads around how exactly it will work! The pros of home-working are the flexibility, but we are all a bit fearful of the dreaded cabin fever setting in.  

The sudden intrusion of work into your home life can be daunting if you’ve never worked from home before. The change to your routine combined with the uncertainty of the times we are facing could lead to a real dip in productivity.  It seems like the perfect (or not so perfect) time to compile all our tips and tricks from around our team of how best to work from home...

  1. Find your optimum productivity hours

I feel like this might be the most important tip of all. It’s time for a bit of introspection - ask yourself, when are you truly the most productive? Are you a classic early bird? Is the hour after lunch time a write-off? 

When you’ve established your optimum hours, make sure you work your day around them. For example, I tend to assign myself writing jobs in the morning when my brain is at its quickest. By the end of the day, more mechanical work is preferable, as my energy levels tend to deplete as the day goes on.

Ensuring you’re available in the company’s normal operating hours is important, but establishing your optimum times will give you guidance on how to prioritise tasks. 

2. Get fresh air early (lockdown permitting...)

Our founder, Eddy, recommends getting some fresh air early on in the day. Clearing the head, establishing focus - this can be a great way to introduce a ready-to-work mindset. 

The initial movement and fresh air could also mimic the act of commuting, thereby psychologically putting you in the mindset of leaving home behind and entering the work day. 

Of course, in these unpredictable times, it makes sense to say observe due caution when out and about and ensure you are practising social distancing. 

3. Get dressed rather than just lounging in pjs. 

Quite a few of us here at the office suggested this one. Maybe there’s something that intrinsically connects the work mindset with putting together an outfit that isn’t an old pajama top and joggers.

Feeling presentable and office-ready will help make that transition to home-working smoother. Working in a dressing gown from bed may sound appealing, but the reality is your body is hardwired to relax in such a situation, making productivity more of an uphill battle.

Of course, these situations are highly personal and balance is always needed. Our founder, Robin, recommends wearing a shirt up top with jogging bottoms, so at least half of you is always presentable for conference calls. 

4. Establishing a clear workstation

Many of us noted the importance of assigning a certain space from which to work. This could be a desk, dining room table, or even a sofa. Where you work isn’t the important consideration here, what matters is how you approach this space. This space should be kept as separate as possible from homely distractions, such as the TV, bed, or other members of the household, and the sole purpose of this area should be for work. Creating that boundary, both physically and mentally, will give you that much-needed focus.

Your home set-up may benefit from a few adjustments. Do you have everything at home you need to do all aspects of your job? It will be important to contact your employers about what exactly you need to work remotely. Additionally, consider your set-up. Consider moving around - or even investing in - certain pieces that will make your time at home easier, such as ergonomically supportive chairs and desks. 

5. Decide upon your working hours

Working from home means that your work-life balance is no more. It is now, well and truly, a work-life blend. Try as you might to mentally separate your work from your home, it will be near impossible to leave work behind if you’re living in the same space you’re working in. This doesn’t mean you have to resign to burnout, however.

Establishing clear boundaries and accessible hours is very important. Just because you're working from home doesn’t mean you should be bombarded in out of work hours by work emails. Be clear and firm when it comes to your working hours. 

In order to maintain good working relations with your colleagues, it is important to be available during the company’s observed working hours. However, if you are not going to be available after 5pm, because you’ve been working since 7am, then it could be worth communicating these with the rest of the team. Again, this comes back to finding out your optimum working hours and treating them as gospel. Don’t schedule a meeting for 9am if you know you won’t have properly woken up by that time. 

6. Stay connected - phone calls, conference calls

To avoid the feelings of isolation and cabin fever, it is really vital to keep up communications with your colleagues. For us, a few GIFs here and there on Slack keep that team spirit going (at the moment it’s mostly coronavirus-related memes, let’s be honest). 

A daily check-in with the team is really useful and easily achievable via webinar services, such as Zoom. It may also be worth substituting a Slack message for a phone call now and again, so we don’t all feel like we’re working from an isolated bubble.

7. Take clear breaks

If you are new to working from home, the sudden luxury of relative freedom can be overwhelming. I can work in my dressing gown? From bed? Eating pizza? This luxury will soon wear off however and you’ll find your productivity will have taken a substantial hit. 

Try and be as strict with your work schedule at home as you would be in the office. Give yourself time for a lunch break, and regular breaks as you would do in the office, but try not to go overboard. Don’t fall into a Youtube wormhole. Don’t see how many loads of laundry you can squeeze into one workday. The lure of procrastination may seem more alluring at home, with no-one around to judge, but try and frame it to yourself as a good opportunity for self-management!

8. Keep a to-do list

As an avid visual thinker, I need those clear indications of schedule to keep focused. Now seems like a perfect opportunity to cover my living room wall in post-its. Of course, keep reminders in any medium that suits your working style - this could be done via organisational apps or an old-school calendar or planner. 

Keeping that accountability going at home, via a to-do list or organisational tool, will give you a visual of the work you’ve achieved in the day. This is massively important as working from home doesn’t give you the finality of a done-and-dusted day in the office. It’s hard to walk out of the doors feeling accomplished when you’re stuck inside. A simple act of checking off a to-do list a day will remind you of what you’ve achieved and give you an opportunity to mentally check-out for the day.

9. Exercise 

Exercise, as we all know, is an instant mood-booster. Now, more than ever, it is important to keep endorphins high as we try and stave off feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. As an active bunch, 22 Group have been discussing the various ways we can keep fit in a lockdown situation.

Our developer Olly is a fan of regular stretches throughout the day and our senior creative, Alex, is hoping to keep running and biking regularly. 

Home workouts via Youtube are popular, easy and, most importantly, free. Yoga and pilates are particularly beneficial for relaxation - something I’m sure many of us are seeking at the moment. 

10. Try to avoid sitting on social media and the news. 

At the moment, opening up a social media or new app in the middle of a work day can be like stepping into quicksand. The regularity of news updates, the constant stream of information, misinformation and anxiety can be overwhelming and a major cause of distraction. 

Setting aside a certain time in the day to check the news has been a suggestion I’ve seen circulating. This limits the amount of time you’re exposed to information-overload and keeps distractions low. The balance between staying informed and not descending into distraction is a balance we all have to tread.

27/03/2020

Weathering the storm of COVID-19.

Within the space of a week, a week that has seemed to span a year, it's already become a cliché to call these times 'unprecedented.'

COVID-19 has changed the landscape, politically, socially and economically, so dramatically that normal things like commuting to the office now seem like relics of the past.

I don’t think it’s alarmist to say real structural change is occurring during this period. Uncertainty is the new normal and change is the only constant.

What then, does this mean for business, for day-to-day survival? And, most importantly, what can we do to weather the storm?


Content and communication

If you haven't already, consider your content marketing strategy.

It may seem like a low priority task, but communication, now more than ever, will oil the wheels of commerce - or, at least, nurture those important leads for when the time is right.

Customers, prospects, leads, employees - all need clear channels of communication.

With the majority of the country now working from behind a screen, it is important to remain connected. Content marketing is a cheap, quick way to directly engage with your audience.

Communication during turbulent times is hugely important, but it may be overwhelming when you feel swamped. Maybe we can help. As our resident copywriter, I would be more than happy to create bespoke content for you (for emails, website, banners, social media) absolutely free. Email jess@22group.co.uk for more details.

Consider reinvention

It may be wise to throw away the rule-book. If your traditional ways of working are suddenly rendered meaningless, consider doing a 180.

The companies quickest off the mark have been those who recognised the necessity of changing direction, and did so swiftly.

Examples of this are LVMH, the French luxury goods company behind Louis Vuitton, making hand sanitiser free of charge for the use of French hospitals and public services.

More practical pivots include restaurants who have closed their doors, but who are still offering food via delivery.

Be mindful of your reputation

In unprecedented times, consumers will remember how companies acted. We’ve seen examples of this already.
CEO of Topshop, Philip Green, made the decision to let his workers go without pay. This provoked a social media backlash, with many calling for a boycott of all Green’s stores.

Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct, also faced criticism for refusing to close his stores, claiming they offer ‘essential services.’ His sudden, and already infamous, U-turn looks likely to tarnish his reputation – for how long is yet to be seen.

Reputational risk may not seem high on the list of short-term concerns, but its impacts will be long-lasting and potentially ruinous. Brand reputation can be nurtured through transparent communication and actions that are in line with company values.

For example, Marks and Spencer, the quintessentially British brand, have widespread customer loyalty spanning generations and a solid reputation. The M&S brand survived recessions and two world wars, always prioritizing their values above everything else. During World War Two they helped to patent the design for utility clothing and raise funds for the RAF. For more on the importance of brand values, read here.

Customer loyalty isn't a solution to every problem, but it can act as a reassuring life-jacket when the storm hits – and in the aftermath that follows.

Stay safe!

Jess


Jess Cawdron

Copywriting & Marketing

0161 672 7822

jess@22group.co.uk

16/03/2020

Our company culture.

‘Culture.’

One of the stylish, corporate buzzwords that roam around, and, when overused, can be as irritating as a wasp at a picnic.

Yet, this is jargon that we can’t keep batting away, as it directly impacts our day-to-day.

Company culture is essentially the personality and character of an organisation. 

It’s the environment of a workplace - how it functions, how employees communicate and how staff are managed.

Company culture can have a significant impact on your job satisfaction and productivity. It is one of the most important factors to consider when hunting for work.

Working out what sort of company culture works for you is very personal and directly relates to your habits as a worker. Are you an intrinsic team player? Do you work far more efficiently when left independently? Do you need clear targets to stay focused?

These elements are so important to establish, but can be tricky to figure out before getting stuck into a job. And, you may find out, too late, that a company's culture doesn’t align with your personal working style.

That’s why we’ve decided to be as transparent as possible!

We’re laying our cards out on the table and giving a thorough overview of our company culture so that we can attract like-minded people.

Our company culture is intrinsically linked to our values. We believe that working in a friendly environment - one of authenticity, integrity and mutual respect - is conducive to productivity and job satisfaction.

As a team, we’re a committed bunch. We’re dedicated to our work, but also to one another and we’re proud of our upbeat and supportive working environment.

We’re proud of our retention of staff and how the atmosphere we’ve created feels more like working with friends than colleagues. 


Here are 8 aspects of our company culture...

     1. We can wear what we want to the office. The relaxed and informal nature of our office environment means we don’t assign to the corporate world of suits and ties. We think being comfy is far more important.

     2. We have quarterly activities as a team. In the past we have been Go Karting and for a night out at Flight Club. Each member of the team gets their own turn to pick an activity of their choice.

     3. We have an Office Mum. Marcia, our officer manager, is the company’s unofficial, but kinda official, office mum. She looks after us superbly and brightens up our office with her sense of humour. She enjoys rating the cups of tea we make her out of 10 and offering us sage advice. We even got her a mother’s day gift last year!

    4. We have flexible hours. As a company we believe that we are all far more productive when we can work at our optimum hours. We have a combination of night owls and early birds in the office and our flexibility suits both.

    5. We can easily work remotely! Our jobs are usually done from behind a computer screen, allowing us that flexibility of work. We have the option of working from home a few times a week, whenever suits us. 

    6.  Our project manager Stephen regularly keeps the office well-stocked with all manner of sweet treats. Doughnuts, biscuits, cakes - you name it.

7. We sometimes like to indulge in Fat Fridays - a day where we explore the culinary delights of the Northern Quarter. This is a day completely free from calorie-counting.

   8. We have 25 days of holiday!


If you like the sound of our company culture, check out our recent PHP developer role.

18/02/2020

PHP Developer role

We’re looking for a talented PHP Developer to work on innovative projects for a wide range of clients at our agency based in the Northern quarter, Manchester. We’re a friendly, forward thinking team who value innovation and provide an open forum for ideas and ways to improve.

We specialise in bespoke website builds for our clients and their critical business systems. You’ll be a key member of our development team and play a crucial role in the development of our new company products. 

The right candidate will care about quality, be a self-starter and have a real passion for development and progressing their skillset.

Experience:

— Object Oriented Application Design

— MVC framework experience - Laravel / Zend / CakePHP or similar

— Wordpress plugin development

— MySQL

— Caching (e.g. Redis, Nginx)

— Version control (Git)

— Property feeds

— Linux server administration (Debian / Ubuntu)

Nice to haves:

— HTML5

— XHTML

— CSS2/3

— Javascript / AJAX

— Node.js

Responsibilities:

— Development of back-end systems for a range of websites 

— Development of company products

— Perform coding to written technical specifications

— Investigate, analyse and document reported bugs

— Perform maintenance development and correction of identified bugs

— Create and document test plans, implement and manage unit tests and scripts

— Communicate regularly with project managers to provide understanding of technical requirements, processes and dependencies

Benefits:

— 25 days holiday

— Friendly and supportive team

— Christmas / summer party

— As much coffee as you can handle

— Friday beers

— Flexible lunch and regular breaks

— No dress code

— Yearly appraisal and pay review

— Convenient central Manchester office location [Post the COVID-19 crisis]

What to send us

— Your contact details

— A bit about you and what you’re passionate about 

— Your experience

— Examples of projects utilising the required skills

— Your reasons for wanting to work for 22 Group

Thanks and good luck!

Email us now

17/02/2020

Our values: the heart of 22

Maybe it’s our Manchester roots that make 22 Group friendly, straight-talking, and confident. We're committed to our responsibility to deliver incredible results, with heart.

There’s more to crafting an effective and distinct brand than a knock-out logo or a sleek website. Whilst important, these more tangible aspects of brand identity work best when combined with what already exists at the beating heart of any solid brand: its values.

Strong marketing is built upon clear brand values. Integrating the message of a company into its marketing increases engagement with customers who admire and align with these ideals.

Showing what the company stands for - its personality, so to speak - resonates with people and reaps results.

For example, think of brands like IKEA who celebrate simplicity and are known for their minimalist style and easy to build products. There’s Spotify’s playful spirit, easily pinpointed in their 'Listen Like You Used To’ adverts. Or Dr Martens, who recently captured both their long-standing rebellious image and product durability in the ‘Tough As You’ campaign. Good branding also has a ripple-like effect, sticking with customers and helping to build brand reputation.

Essentially: think of your values as your brand DNA.

Brand values show your ‘true north’ (no geographical bias intended) as they act as an orientating guide for both your clients and colleagues. They define the business. The blueprint the business. They also show us here at 22 Group what each individual client strives towards and what, together, we’ll focus on conveying.

Distinguishing the message of a company goes a long way. And, whilst it’s important for us to be attuned to the brand values of our clients, we also realise it’s probably important to outline the 22 Group team’s shared ethos — so you know exactly who you’re taking the dive with. Of course, communicating these values is also key so prospective clients can clearly identify connecting strands between our brand and theirs.

So, we’ll go first ... Here’s what our brand stands for:

Friendliness.

A cornerstone of our company’s culture, we put this shared value into practice daily. Cultivating positive and long-standing working relationships amongst ourselves and with our clients is genuinely important to us. It’s all about being our best selves and bringing out the best in each other.

Straight talking.

Honesty and authenticity sets us apart. In a world inundated with options, decisions and choices to be made, it’s nice to know who you can rely on to get the job done. We won’t set unrealistic goals or mess around with your expectations. Building open and honest relationships is always our aim.

Confident.

We believe in ourselves - and you should too. Our passion for each aspect of what we do shines through into our work and you can trust us to give it our all. We recognise our capabilities and are comfortable to try new things in order to make the most of our talents.

Committed.

We take pride in what we do. Loyal and long-standing client relationships are just as important to us as project details. Each and every one of us is dedicated and genuinely invested in our work - and to upholding our brand values.

If it sounds as though we’re kindred spirits, or you’d like to make your brand stand out in a crowd, get in touch with our team: jess@22group.co.uk 

23/12/2018

Our team is growing….meet David Christian-Woodruff!

2018 was a busy year for 22, with quick growth we went from 8 to 12 members of staff. As we continue to take on such a wide range of clients across varied sectors we’ve been refining our processes and tightening our procedures to offer our clients the very best experience. As part of that we’ve employed a new Project Manager, David Christian-Woodruff to help everything run smoothly.

We talk to David about his experience and what he’ll be doing in his exciting new role!

Q1. Tell us a bit about your background?

A: I was born in London, before living in Belgium for 15 years from the age of 3, where I attended a Francophone school and learnt to speak French. I then moved to an international school. I returned to UK to study at De Montfort University in Leicester to study Graphic Design. For the last 6 years, I’ve been working at a digital agency starting as a designer, then moving to team leader and finally digital producer role (which is similar to project manager).

Q2. What made you want to work at 22 Group?

A: On meeting the team initially, it was the ethos, vision and team togetherness that convinced me that this was the place for me! I wanted somewhere I could go and get stuck in, not only to use my experience to manage projects but to be able to help the business in a fundamental way moving forward. Having had experience working with many projects at once, it was an exciting prospect to work at a company where I could streamline processes and take on both the PM and a more analytical role.

Q3. What does the role of PM involve and how can you help clients?

A: From my perspective, being a PM is all about being there for the client, liaising with the team to ensure that from the very beginning, all parties know what needs to be done and by what date. My aim will be to keep clients informed throughout, suggesting new ideas and helping their business and brand push forward in an ever-changing climate.

Q4. So, you're new to Manchester what do you think of it so far?

A: It's brilliant! Coming from Leicester to Manchester is a BIG change, but there is so much more to do and see and it’s a great, cultural city! Having only been here a short time, I know I will still be things I will be discovering for some time yet.

Q5. What do you get up to outside of work?

A: I like being active so going to the gym, playing football, tennis or any sport is high on the agenda. Apart from that, I love to explore and try new things! The nightlife in Manchester will also certainly be a massive bonus now I've moved up here!

12/12/2018

22 Group receive an ‘Honourable Mention’ at the AWWWARDS

I'm really proud of the amazing effort our team put into building our website. http://www.22group.co.uk .We knew it was good but didn't really shout about it (well not as much as a lot of agencies do).

I've been told in the past that considering the amount of great work we have done I'm too humble and need to shout louder. It maybe a bit of a cliche, but as an agency, I feel we'd rather just get on and do an amazing job for our clients, rather than try and get ourselves noticed. So it's great to get the honourable mention from the Worlds leading website awards body, the highly respected AWWWARDS http://www.awwwards.com

This is not a small clicky group of UK judges who are wheeled out once a year because they know someone who knows someone, this is 75 of the Worlds most respected digital creatives. The AWWWARDS website is an inspirational hub for digital creatives in all corners of the globe, so to be recognised and featured on it is a true honour.

Well done guys! Now back to work:)
- Robin Arnold, Creative Director

19/10/2018

Getting social at the Northern Business Expo!

On October 14th and 15th we had our first Tradeshow as 22 Group - The Northern Business Expo! I was honoured to be asked to run a workshop on social media at such a high profile event (particularly with our award winning Creative Director Robin Arnold and supermodel Caprice already on the billing)! Social media is such an integral part of a cohesive marketing plan and I felt this would be a good chance to talk to businesses about how they utilise its impact and reach to support their business objectives.

I wanted to ensure every participant went away with some new knowledge which they could apply on a practical level, so we covered some of the basics such as how Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (the most used social channels in a business context) differ in how users engage. This gave participants the opportunity to think about how to craft the appropriate content for each channel and look at what the banner, profile images and bio say about the company. Each of 3 social channels we looked at offer a range of measurement tools to really help businesses be strategic about their social media activity and we spent some time focusing on the benefits of each of these. We then moved onto how to manage complaints and took a look at some of the things the big brands are doing.

This was followed by a practical exercise, getting everyone into the habit of following, sharing, retweeting, scheduling and posting content! It was great to see how involved everyone got and see some real connections formed amongst participants - that's what social is all about after all! Towards the end of the session we started to put together a social strategy for each participant so everyone could take something useful back to the office with them. It was fantastic to see so many people there and everyone getting so involved!

If you would like to receive the slides for the presentation or want to discuss how 22 Group can support your social media efforts please email: amber@22group.co.uk

18/05/2018

Northern Business Expo- Websites

OFFER EXTENDED: Sign up before the end of April and get 3 months FREE hosting worth £270

Landing page/

£949 (Usually £1,200)

Struggling without a web presence? We'll create a stunning landing page for you complete with details about your business, social media links and an attractive enquiry form for potential customers to contact you.

Further £100 off when purchased with another of our packs 

Email hello@22group.co.uk - Offer only available until the end of April.

Package includes:

— Webpage with logo

— Customised design

— Customer details

— Call to action

— Social media links

— Attractive enquiry form

— Google Analytics set up


All packages are subject to terms and conditions

18/04/2016

Northern Business Expo- Creative

OFFER EXTENDED: Sign up to either of our creative packages before the end of April and get a FREE 2 sided flyer designed and setup for print worth £225

Creative package/

£800 (Usually £1,600)

Realise the power that branding can have on your business with this 'feel the brand force' starter pack.

Package includes:

— 1 hour brand identity development review

— Research and analysis of your competitors and market leaders branding

— 3 bespoke logo concepts with 1 set of amends on your chosen route, supplied in various file formats for on and offline use

— Stationary designs and print ready artwork including; business cards, comp slip and letterhead

— Social media graphics

— Logo usage print / web guidelines


All packages are subject to terms and conditions

Sales brochure/

£322 (Usually £450)

A well designed sales or corporate brochure is essential for conveying your products, values and services, in a professional and appealing way to your potential or existing clients.

Package includes:

— Evaluation of your current literature

— Design of a sale brochure (up to 16 pages) in a print ready format

— Up to 4 stock photography images

— Up to 8 bespoke icons

— Up to 4 bespoke illustrations / graphics

Extras

Additional pages: £75 x 4 pages

Content writing costs: £700 up to 10 pages


All packages are subject to terms and conditions

email us at hello@22group.co.uk -  Offer only available until the end of April 

Manchester

+44 (0) 161 672 7822
enquiries@22group.co.uk

26 Dale Street, Manchester, M1 1FY
Find us on Google Maps

Our partners

22 Group is the umbrella company for creative work.

Check out our specialised branches for work in the property and finance sectors: Property Stream | Finance Stream

22 Group is a proud member of The Pride, an alliance of independent creative and communications companies.

Copyright © 22 Group Ltd. 2020. All rights reserved.