Moving office – behind the scenes

Moving office – behind the scenes

Near the end of 2019, we decided that it was time to find TopLine Comms and TopLine Film a new home. The decision was partly due to company growth, but also because our flexible working policy (which allows our employees to work from home up to twice a week, or to work flexible hours) meant that we weren’t making use of all the desks and space we had. It made sense to rethink our space, so that’s exactly what we did.

As a B2B PR agency in London, we think it’s important to be around other creative companies, in both a flexible and quirky work environment. We didn’t want to add extra time to everyone’s daily commute, so the location was crucial. Plus, the space needed to be dog-friendly and have a really good coffee machine!

Of course, moving office isn’t all glamour and we certainly faced some bumps in the road. This included things like making sure the internet speed was up to scratch in our new serviced office; adjusting to flexible desk spaces; moving furniture and equipment from one office to the other and of course, making sure it felt like home. But we got there in the end and can now safely say that we feel right at home in our new space.

Helpful tips when considering an office move

Before starting the process of moving office, it’s worth making sure that you understand how the IT system works in all the potential new office spaces you look at. This means that once you do make the move, you won’t have any delays or issues and you can be up and running straight away.

Finding a space that fit our criteria was proving to be a bit of a task, so we decided to look into the proptech market (particularly proptech in London) to find a platform that could help us. We found that the company KONTOR was well-suited to finding us a new office space. They asked for our requirements, such as the number of people in our team; how many desks we needed; what our IT requirements were and then went to work on finding us some potential new office spaces.

There are also other proptech companies, such as Hubble, which can provide help when you’re considering making the move. Have a look online at the different proptech apps and services to find what’s best for you – you don’t need to face moving office on your own!

Also, it may really help to use apps such as Citymapper when you’re trying to work out the possible new commute times for your team. It’s downloadable on most smartphones and is super easy to use and very accurate.

TopLine has now settled in at The Office Group, and we LOVE our new office. We have great views of Tottenham Court Road and Russel Square, and it’s also allowed the team to work and collaborate with people they wouldn’t usually get the chance to.

All of us here at TopLine look forward to welcoming you at our new office soon!

 

Written by: Michaela Lee, Office Manager 

Becoming one of the best places to work in the UK

Company culture and reputation are important because they affect everything, from sales and marketing to client relations and recruitment. Having great people is an essential part of running a B2B PR agency, which is why at TopLine Comms, we spend a lot of time on our people strategy. We know that we need to keep the great people we already have, to attract the best clients, and vice versa. PR is a competitive field, and PR pros have plenty of choice in where to work, so we do our best to keep our people happy – and to keep them at TopLine.

One of the main ways to do that is to gather in-depth, specific data on where we are succeeding and where we can improve. That’s why we turned to the Great Place to Work® UK (GPTW UK) Best Workplaces™ survey. This year, we submitted for the second time – and while we eagerly await the results, we’re taking the time to reflect on the process and what we’ve learned from previous years.

Encouraging two-way dialogue

The best way to find out what people want is to ask them. We run monthly ‘start, stop, continue’ surveys with our team, where they get to tell us (anonymously) what they would like TopLine to start, stop and continue doing.

In addition, a while ago, we made a long list of current and potential future benefits that we could offer and compared them to other equivalent size companies. Once we finalised our list, we ran a workshop with the entire team to discuss what people valued. Sure enough, our team told us what they wanted – and generally, it wasn’t too much to ask.

The next step was completing the GPTW Best Workplaces™ survey and analysing the results.

Completing the GPTW UK Trust Index© survey and Culture Audit© assessment

The survey works as an analysis tool, a platform for recognition of your efforts, and it helps to attract new talent. The process starts with the Trust Index© survey with employees. It measures the level of trust and engagement within the organisation, considering factors such as values and ethics, leadership effectiveness, inclusivity, wellbeing, and innovation.

Next is the Culture Audit© assessment, which is an extremely detailed piece of work based on our policies, processes and results. The combined results of these assessments determined our success and ranking as a 2019 Best Workplace™.

The work paid off, as TopLine Comms ranked sixth in the UK’s Best Workplaces™ 2019 small business category. We are also grateful that we were recognised as a ‘Best Workplace™ for Women,’ and we have received the ‘Excellence in Wellbeing’ accreditation for two years running.

Using the process to make changes

They say that anything worth having doesn’t come easy, and in this case, we tend to agree – the award entry is detailed and takes some time. But it’s worth it: not only do you (hopefully) get an award, but you also gather insights about your company that you might not have done otherwise.

After you receive your results, GPTW UK provides a detailed employee engagement report that highlights key areas of strength and areas for improvement. Upon getting ours, we split the whole company into three teams to look at where we did well, where results appeared inconsistent, and where we fell short. Each group discussed the results and contributed their ideas for achieving and maintaining a high score, and we collated the feedback to inform our action planning.

The work didn’t stop once we got our award. We’ve continued taking on further CSR and engagement initiatives and we are always working to improve. We’re proud to put our employees first and honestly believe this is the key to our success as a B2B PR agency.

For more information on GPTW UK, check out this case study, and watch this space for our 2020 results!

Four fashion tech trends making a statement this season

In 2000, J.Lo appeared at the Grammys in a jungle-print Versace dress with a neckline that plunged so far it pushed the very definition of ‘neckline’. Suddenly, Google – which at this point was just two years old – was bombarded with searches for images of that dress, and they reacted by creating ‘Google Images’. Fast forward to 2020, and J.Lo walked the runway wearing a version of that iconic dress in an unofficial partnership between Google and Versace. But this wasn’t just a publicity stunt: over the past two decades, fashion and technology have become inextricably intertwined.

Social media and online search now form a critical part of the shopping experience, and both luxury and high street brands are racing to keep up with the pace of technology. Here are four fashion tech trends that are in vogue this season and beyond.

1. Blockchain x Fashion

Fashion rental companies such as Rent the Runway and clothing resale sites like Vestiaire Collective have emerged in response to widespread concerns about the industry’s sustainability – but as with any online purchase, they come with the risk of fakery. Blockchain promises to resolve the issue of counterfeit luxury items once and for all by cryptographically tracking their provenance.

Farfetch recently partnered with Facebook and Spotify, for instance, to create a blockchain-based unique digital identifier for items sold on the platform. Similarly, luxury conglomerate LVMH teamed up with Microsoft to launch Aura, a blockchain platform for tracking products from brands such as Dior and Louis Vuitton. In addition to allowing consumers to authenticate their products, they can also be used to track the product over time – all the way from raw materials to your closet. This is a major boon to an industry which is working to improve its sustainability record, and it should improve consumer confidence when it comes to picking up second-hand goods.

2. Style and the supply chain

The influence of tech companies doesn’t stop with online services: many fashion brands are reconsidering their operations and looking at technology companies for inspiration. After a server migration glitch recently left Rent the Runway with severe supply chain issues, the industry is looking for more robust solutions. French luxury brand family Kering and multinational LVMH, for instance, have held hackathons to search for radical redesigns of the way that the supply chain is managed.

Leveraging consumer data through AI and machine learning is vital for brands looking to tighten their supply chain and optimise production levels. Currently, fashion brands are surprisingly far behind their tech counterparts when it comes to data collection. However, some are beginning to turn to machine learning algorithms to process customer insights, make better product recommendations, and provide more accurate sizing details as a way of combatting costly returns. Brands that use data effectively to create a more personalised shopping experience online will be in a stronger position to tailor their supply chain and cut down on overproduction.

3. Sustainability is the showstopper

Sustainability is a serious issue, and it’s one that the fashion industry is taking seriously. Nearly 87 million tonnes of packaging waste was discarded in the EU in 2016, or approximately 170 kg per person, and the clothing business – particularly fast fashion – is a significant  contributor. The fashion industry, in fact, consumes more energy than all of aviation and shipping combined, according to the UN. So, what are companies doing to clean up their act?

The likes of Moncler and Zalando have borrowed the hackathon concept from the tech world and adapted it to focus on sustainability, while Kering has declared that it will go carbon neutral at every step of the supply chain. In particular, tech is at the heart of developments surrounding waste management, greenhouse gas emissions and water usage. Tech partnerships are also helping fashion companies be more sustainable, too, as in the case of Google Cloud’s partnership with Stella McCartney to help brands generate a more accurate assessment of the environmental impact of their production process.

4. Retail as a Service is the new online shopping

Retail as a Service (RaaS) is another key fashion tech trend. For a glimpse at the future of techno-fashion boutiques, look no further than Microsoft’s white-label “store of the future” showcase. It manages inventory, automatically generates insights for the store operator, and streamlines the shopping experience for consumers. These ‘off the rack’ services provide increased functionality for retailers of all sizes to streamline back-end infrastructure, enabling them to provide exceptional service. Slick operations will play an increasingly important role in brand loyalty – RaaS will ensure that smaller retailers don’t lose out.

The collaboration between fashion and technology isn’t just in one season and out the next: these fashion tech trends will likely define the next decade or more in the industry. Brands from the runway to the high street are adopting technology to take on new challenges such as sustainability, to solve old issues like counterfeiting, and to get an edge in a cutthroat industry.

To give your FashTech business the best chance of growing, drop us a line today. Or find out more about our tech PR services.

 

Written by: Katie Shuff, Comms Consultant  

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 Events

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is a global, week-long festival of live events taking place throughout the world from 18-24 November 2019. And with the UK being one of the world’s most vibrant start-up hubs, GEW UK is joining forces this year with a group of leading enterprise and entrepreneurship organisations around the world and encouraging UK startups to #GoGlobal.

Following is a list of some noteworthy events, both here and abroad, that current and would-be entrepreneurs can look forward to.

Attend a workshop guaranteed to help aspiring entrepreneurs begin the process of owning a successful business – including evaluating business ideas, developing a business plan, and exploring financing options.

 

Guest speaker Jeffrey Krauss, from The HR Office, will cover best practices for policies, benefits, and unique selling propositions to help your company retain employees while attracting new ones.

 

Ideal for current and future founders, investors, and ecosystem builders, the two-day Founder Factory event aims to celebrate and connect successful founders and business leaders in the Philadelphia region.

 

Students aged 5-19 from across Eastbourne will deliver over 50 hours of magazine style programmes on 87.7fm and via www.eyr.org.uk, while learning a range of employability and personal skills.

 

Connect and network with like-minded businesswomen over a three-course lunch and hear inspirational stories from two acclaimed business speakers.

 

Join a discussion on inclusive entrepreneurship, specifically aimed at those who are facing barriers that are preventing them from normal access to the workplace.

 

 

This interview-format event will allow the audience to learn about the struggles and positives of entrepreneurship and finance, whether you’re a full-time entrepreneur or an entrepreneur with a full-time job.

 

A lively, interactive seminar packed with practical marketing hints and tips only available to those who have not already started a new business, including an overview of how to select the most effective marketing methods.

 

Corpus BDS aims to support young and upcoming entrepreneurs through this week-long event by providing the necessary stimulation, encouragement and relevant information to foster their entrepreneurial growth.

 

The November meeting of Women in Telecoms & Technology (WiTT) celebrates women around the world in the tech sector and features inspiring presentations from several leading women entrepreneurs.

To keep an eye on these amazing events, download our PDF calendar so that you have access on the go.

TopLine announces two senior promotions

We are delighted to announce two senior promotions: Katy Bloomfield has been promoted to Head of Client Relations and Luke Budka to Head of Digital PR and SEO.

In her new role, Katy will be designing and running our client acquisition, management and retention programme, ensuring that our digital PR and SEO clients continue to enjoy a premium service from TopLine Comms. Katy joined TopLine in 2017 as Comms Director, having previously climbed the ranks at Founded and gyro.

As Head of Digital PR and SEO, Luke will take a strategic lead in building, developing and improving our PR, search and content offering. Luke was one of TopLine’s founding employees and has become an expert on search and digital PR.

Founder and CEO, Heather Baker comments: “Luke and Katy are established leaders within the TopLine business. They were key drivers of the integration strategy following our acquisition of Six Degrees in 2018, and they both ably stepped up to take on more leadership responsibilities during my maternity leave. We recently set our three-year company strategy, and I look forward to working with them to deliver on that.”

TopLine Comms is officially one of the UK’s top 25 SME Culture Leaders!

We’re delighted to announce that TopLine Comms has ranked 18th in Real Business’ 2019 UK SME Culture Leader table. The award recognises our UK and South African teams and our commitment to putting a culture strategy in place.

Real Business, in association with Breathe, designed the awards to champion UK SMEs that put company culture at the heart of their businesses. In the second iteration of their SME Culture Leaders campaign, they identified the UK’s top 25 small business pioneers dedicated to building impactful, positive culture that lasts.

We’re particularly pleased with this award because we’ve been working on our culture strategy for a while. As a B2B PR agency, our jobs are fast-paced and we’re all busy. But a healthy work culture is so important for staff happiness and retention, that we’ve made a concerted effort to improve it over the last year.

Creating a happy work culture is a job in itself and we wanted to work with those in the know, to make sure we got it right. We now work with an organisational development consultant to measure and improve career development opportunities, employee feedback and benefits. Having insight from a third party has been crucial for us – you need some impartial advice to get it right.

We also make an effort to speak directly to the team about what they want to see from their workplace. For example, on World Environment Day this year, we surveyed our team to get an idea of their position on sustainability, and to see what ideas they had for our new sustainability policy. They asked for better recycling facilities, a ban on single-use plastic in the office, and volunteer days for environmental causes – all of which we implemented right away.

But our most successful strategy is definitely flexible working. Everyone is allowed to work from home up to twice a week, and we regularly get feedback that this is one of the best benefits we could provide. The policy is based on trust and respect, as well as efficient, cloud-based infrastructure that everyone can use from wherever they are. Introducing flexible working has absolutely revolutionised the business-boosting employee satisfaction and turning the company into an award-winning employer.

We take workplace culture seriously because we want our team to be happy at work. It keeps them motivated and productive and makes the office a better place to be. Getting an award for it is just an added bonus.

Why we are a cashless business

Earlier this year, we made the decision to become a fully cashless business. In short, the transition has been a success – it’s made us more efficient and more secure.

Thinking of taking the plunge, here are the benefits we’ve enjoyed since going cashless.

 

Less admin

A lot of admin resource is needed to reconcile a box of petty cash to receipts and this process is prone to errors. It’s hard to keep track of cash in real time particularly when dealing with multiple team members in multiple currencies. Plus, even the smallest payments at the newsagent can be paid for by card – so there’s really no need for cash.

Put simply, by eliminating cash, we save time. Time that can be spent on more important business processes.

 

Championing fintech is what we do

We’re passionate about working with exciting fintech companies that are streamlining the world of payments and managing expenses. We use Soldo, which means that everyone who needs to spend money on the business has a pre-paid card that they can use. As a result, we don’t have to worry about dealing with petty cash for things like team coffees or office snacks. Instead, the team can go and get what we need, when they need it – and it’s easy to track who spent what and when.

Putting everything on a card means we know exactly where money is being spent. Not only can we manage expenses more effectively, but our team feels more empowered. What’s more, we can easily create a budget, track expenses and see what’s in our account in real time.

 

Going cashless means we have better security measures in place

According to Paymentsense, nearly a third (31%) of business owners admit to feeling safer using new payment technology. Keeping large amounts of petty cash on the premise makes you more of a target, so there’s a greater level of security and protection using card payments.

Your bank should have tight security measures to ensure that your money is protected. And on the off chance that your account is hacked or compromised, your bank should reimburse you for lost funds. The same can’t be said if someone loses cash (or has it stolen).

At TopLine, we’re all about systems and processes that make our working lives that little bit easier. Going cashless has definitely done that for us.

Golden rules for an effective sustainability policy

According to research from the World Health Organisation (WHO), nine out of ten people worldwide breathe polluted air. WHO also estimates that “around seven million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air.” Let that sink in for a bit.

These stats are a bold reminder that we can’t sit around and do nothing. And, given that we spend so much of our time at work, it’s a good a place to start thinking green.

To honour World Environment Day 2019, TopLine Film surveyed 1,000 office workers on workplace sustainability. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) said they would refuse a job at an organisation with a poor sustainability record, and three quarters (73 percent) would like to see their workplace improve its sustainability record.

We consider ourselves an environmentally conscious business and now we’re really putting that into action by implementing our own sustainability policy. First, we spoke to our team to get an idea of their position on sustainability, and to see what ideas they had for us.

The people have spoken

Thank goodness for good staff. The majority of us at TopLine (94 percent) are committed to protecting the environment and agree that we should have a sustainability policy in place.

The good news is that creating such a policy doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. The TopLine team has identified the following practices they’d like to see implemented in our new sustainability policy.

Improve our office recycling practices and ban plastic from the office

Our team would like us to ban single use plastic in the office, and that’s something we’re going to act upon immediately. From now on, TopLine will be a plastic-free zone. We’ll be providing reusable cups to prevent the lazy temptation of picking up plastic ones. If other businesses can’t afford to do this, then team members could be encouraged to bring a reusable cup from home.

Reduce energy usage with a switch off policy

Introducing a ‘switch off’ policy for everyone to turn off their computers and other devices at the end of every day is easy to implement but just as easy to forget. We’re going to put up visible reminders and hold everyone accountable to make sure we stick to it!

Initiate volunteer days

One idea that the TopLine team came up with is to volunteer our time to environmental and sustainable activities. They’ll find eco-friendly initiatives they’d like to get involved with and the plan is to give them time away from the office to do just that. This could be anything from picking up litter to helping plant trees locally.

Commit to sharing more sustainability related content

Living a more sustainable lifestyle comes down to being more aware and making better decisions. So, we plan on sharing more sustainability related content on our social channels and in our internal Slack groups. This should help to keep sustainability top of mind.

Aim to work with sustainable partners and suppliers.

At TopLine, we work with a lot of suppliers, so we’re going to ask our current ones what they’re doing about sustainability and if there’s anything we can do to help. If you work with a lot of suppliers, then you’re just one part of the chain, so it’s worth asking them what their position is on sustainability. This not only highlights your company’s commitment, but challenges them to start thinking about greener practices, if they haven’t already done so.

Our planet is precious, and it’s under threat. These are just a handful of the ideas that came from the team, so we have a lot to work with to implement a solid sustainability policy. We’re proud of the fact that our team is uniting in creating a more sustainable work environment and we’d like to challenge other businesses to do the same. You can start by implementing the above but more importantly, talk to your team about what they’re passionate about. It’s a great way to implement effective policies that they will want to follow.

Small Business Heroes is on hold!

We created Small Business Heroes back in 2013 to celebrate the people behind SMEs.

We felt their amazing achievements were going unrecognised.

To this day they remain a cornerstone of British industry:

  • Small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2018 and 99.9% were small or medium-sized (SMEs).
  • Total employment in SMEs was 16.3 million; 60% of all private sector employment in the UK.
  • The combined annual turnover of SMEs was £2.0 trillion, 52% of all private sector turnover.
  • SMEs account for at least 99.5% of the businesses in every main industry sector.

Source: https://www.fsb.org.uk/media-centre/small-business-statistics

We doff our hats to the UK’s small businesses and if you’re a small business owner, we wish you the very best of luck.

Small Business Heroes may return, but for now, we’re focussing on our core agency business of digital PR and SEO and video production.

So until next time…