The best of both worlds

A client recently commented how lovely we are to work with, and also said that you get much more of a feel for ‘what makes us Oyster’ once you have worked with us. This has inspired us to use our blog to let everyone get to know us a bit better. This next blog post talks about our hybrid working pattern.

We’re a team of 12, in an open plan office – in the Old Print Works in Emsworth – which works really well for our collaborative approach. We all have the option of working from home for up to 40% of our working week, so we are still in the office together for the majority 60%. As a rule everyone works in the office on Tuesdays, incentivised by free breakfast for all. So this is usually the day for team meetings and any company updates. The design team and dev team are close by, working at opposite ends of the same table so we can always grab 5 minutes to check on something with each other if needed. The design team have a weekly morning catchup, and account managers are often in the boardroom in the afternoon running through projects.

A team approach

Having time in the office together is invaluable – impromptu chats about projects can be really useful and it’s essential for welcoming new starters or helping junior members of staff. And as a bonus it’s nice to have the routine of walking a lap around the millpond at lunchtime, plus Emsworth has some great cafes (the coronation chicken at the Deli comes highly recommended!). Another highlight is when our studio manager Kharran brings in a lovely little dog called Larry. 

The design team schedule in their own brainstorms where designers can bounce ideas off each other. Throughout our projects we’re sharing design visuals amongst ourselves, whether it be to help each other with new design approaches or checking final artwork. If someone is working from home that day then we make sure they are always included. 

We’re keen to meet clients in person for project kick-off meetings or updates, but equally we are always happy to jump on a video call when something crops up that they want to discuss with us. Clients can speak directly to designers and developers – there’s many occasions when it really helps to talk with whoever is working on the project – and account managers are on hand too. 

Three framed photos show the bright colourful exterior of the Oyster Design office, the menu of their local cafe and the lovely calm blue water of Emsworth millpond with a clear blue sky.

Why flexible working patterns work

For some parts of a project, it’s undeniable that you are most productive if you are on your own, with peace and quiet – that annual report with 250 text amends marked up with sticky notes? That tricky dev task where you need uninterrupted time to just get your head down? The pitch presentation you want to sit down and write up undisturbed? This is where WFH really comes into its own and having the opportunity to work remotely can make you more productive.

It also gives you the chance to have a better work life balance. Maybe you gain an extra hour that day due to having no commute, and spend that time going for a run (or watching Netflix, whatever floats your boat!). Or the extra flexibility can help with family life – if you need to leave straight after work to shoot off to parents evening for example.

Clients can speak directly to designers and developers – there’s many occasions when it really helps to talk directly with whoever is working on the project – and account managers are on hand too.

How hybrid started for us

Hybrid working was something Oyster didn’t start until 2020, alongside many other companies. Initially there was a lot of finding out what systems worked best (and which ones didn’t!) but we soon got in the flow, and we were one of the lucky companies who weathered the pandemic fairly well – helped by the fact we have good long-standing relationships with clients who have used us regularly for years. The design team has had several senior designers for many years who knew each other well and this helped the design team switch to remote working quite smoothly. It was a real test of our processes and meant anything that needed to be tweaked accordingly was – and this turned out to be the best preparation for a hybrid pattern going forward… you could call it a silver lining after all the chaos of the pandemic. It’s nice to look back and see there’s something positive to take forward!

Jo Kempster, Senior Designer