Thriving in the workplace
A workplace in which people can truly thrive is, for Farley, “about treating people with respect and not treating them like they’re in the school yard.” She believes many workplaces infantilise their staff and don’t treat them like adults, or respect the lives everyone lives outside the office.
Farley outlines the benefits the agency offers as being truly “representative of the modern world.” Whether that’s giving people the choice to take last minute days off if they’re needed, a sabbatical after five years of work, volunteering days, or other forms of flexible working. Farley is adamant that she wants people to feel comfortable making use of these benefits; she doesn’t want people to “apologise about it.”
This flexibility, Farley feels “is key to people thriving in the workplace. You can’t apply rigid standards.” A 9 to 5 desk job is “not representative of the world we live in now…[so] why do we feel that has to be the norm?” Farley’s beliefs echo that outlined by many in the industry that the demise of the linear career path should be embraced and celebrated within companies. She also cites and respects the work that the journalist Anna Whitehouse, founder of parenting platform Mother Pukka, has been doing through the Flex Appeal in shifting attitudes towards flexible working.
This should also stretch into the work that’s being produced, or the clients agencies choose to work with. For Farley, the choice is obvious because “you see the difference in engagement if somebody’s working on something that they’re passionate about.” She also encourages her staff to be okay with the words ‘I don’t know’. Our desire for immediacy often means that people don’t believe they have, or won’t actually take, the time to properly understand something. Farley stresses that it’s okay to not know the answer; that’s where working as a team proves itself as vital.
For Farley, the important thing to remember is that “it’s just work.” But, she adds, “There’s a distinction here; it’s not that I don’t want people to care but also I don’t want people to care so much at the detriment of their overall health and wellbeing.”
Social issues matter
As the world of work changes, so too does both consumer and industry attitudes to the campaigns we see, and the brands we shop from. Purpose matters, as signalled by the fact that 63% of consumers prefer to purchase products and services from companies that stand for a purpose that reflects their own values and beliefs, according to Accenture.
Farley’s favourite pieces of work from the last year have been those with “anything that ladders up to a bigger brand purpose.” This is what she cares about and is a reality that is “very much at the forefront of comms at the moment.”
Companies are facing more scrutiny for their actions, ethics and makeup of their teams. “We’re in a new era of purpose and reputation when it comes to brands,” Farley adds. People want the truth from those companies, and they won’t stop until they unearth it. This means brands are having to win their consumers’ trust; a difficult thing to do at a time when, although 81% of people say that trust in brands is an important part of their purchase behaviour, only one third of those people say they actually trust the brands they buy from.
“Factored into that,” adds Farley, “trust is at an all-time low with the media, with brands, with influencers, with politicians, with the world at large.” This lack of trust, she believes, is fuelling people’s desire for true, unwavering brand purpose.
She cites the rise of a trend like Hope Punk as indicative of the current situation. This is, she explains, “essentially standing up and fighting for what you believe in, demanding that we’re nicer and kinder and more human to each other.”
She admired the work that Dove did with Getty Images on their Project #ShowUs that is compiling a stock photo library that is more representative of the modern-day woman or non-binary person. She also believes in the credibility of the work Google did with the Canadian Down Syndrome Society to make their voice-assistive technology more inclusive.