Bright Ideas

Forging the ‘Campus Mentality’

One of the many amazing things about working at fresh is it’s unique approach to working. This week, we hear from our Managing Director, Patrick, who explains about our Campus Mentality and fantastic new-look offices.

Patrick Howells

Managing Director

[email protected]

Trust.

It’s a fundamental part of humans working together. In fact, it’s what society is based on. When humans first began to live together in groups, it was because they could trust each other. They trusted that others would help them raise their children, protect them from attack, and make decisions that would be for the benefit of the whole group, rather than the individual.

Living by an agreed set of rules, based on trust, allowed human societies to prosper in a way that no other animal has managed to. However, as we’ve prospered, in many ways, we’ve lost sight of the trust that put us here. Our modern tendency to focus on the bad around us is eroding our trust in each other. We’ve begun to believe that everyone is out to harm us in some way, that they will betray us if they get a chance.

The rise of the corporate culture…

Nowhere is this more evident than in corporate cultures, where a belief prevails that work is something that can only take place in an office environment. Only there can leaders keep a sufficient eye on their employees to ensure that they are not conspiring against them, and are completing their required hours.

Personally, I don’t believe that this lack of trust is beneficial to the corporate “society” that we need to thrive in business. By not trusting their people, these types of leaders encourage the rise of false mechanisms that present an appearance of work. In other words, the mistrusted worker begins to act in an untrustworthy way, and the cycle continues.

What about leadership?

I believe that it is up to the leaders of a business to be the benefactors of trust within their organisations. Our default position should be trust for those who work with us, that we should buck the modern-day societal idea that trust must be arduously earned over time.

Only by doing this can we truly get the best out of our people, because trust is an incredibly powerful thing. When we feel trusted, most of us want to live up to that. Of course, there will be those who choose to take advantage, but these will be the exception rather than the rule, and they will be quickly exposed by the rest of the team, who, just like those early societies, want the group to prosper.

Taking inspiration from university!

Over the last few years, we’ve changed the way that we treat our people at fresh, placing greater trust in them, treating them more like adults. This got me thinking about the first time in my life that I felt as though I was treated like an adult, when I went to university.

The transition from school to university was a big change for me. Gone was the ‘need’ to be in a lesson at a certain time, instead, it was up to me whether I went to lectures or not. No-one was collecting my homework; I alone was in charge of my own success. I was trusted, by my parents, and by the university to get the job done. Which, I suppose, is why universities are known as institutes of higher education; it reflects the trust that is placed in the students within them; their education, their destiny.

Within a university setting, bright minds are brought together to work on projects that, put simply, change the world. They work in a fluid, flexible, and focused way, where the project is paramount, and the team objective comes before individual requirements. They share ideas, discoveries and actions, in pursuit of better, and they are trusted to do so on their own terms, and in their own time.

 

Forging the campus mentality.

This ‘campus mentality’ forms the basis of the new way that we work at fresh. Our behaviours are underpinned by one true value, trust; in ourselves, in each other, and from our clients. Fundamentally, the project comes first; the end result, the amazing things that we make happen only come as a result of some seriously hard work from our team.

We have some special talent within fresh, and we want to continue to attract the best people to come and join our family. Who am I to tell these incredible people how to go about making it happen? Sure, there will be times when the project requires them to be ‘on campus’, but there will be other times when the project is best served by taking some time away, working from home, or with different hours.

Just like at those universities, the project, and the team comes first, but that allows the individual to make their contribution in the way that suits them and their team, allowing them to have some balance in their lives, and some support when they need it, it’s a two-way street. We’ve become, in a very real sense, an ‘Institute of Higher Employment’.

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