How Spell & The Gypsy Collective Maintains a Positive Workplace Vibe

April Davis By April Davis | 09 Jan 2019

The Byron Bay-based fashion label strives to maintain an inclusive, honest and collaborative workplace environment. But, with more than 50 team members, how does the company achieve this?

It’s rare for retailers to have all of their staff working in one place, especially in a cross-channel space where employees are spread across a network of stores and head offices, sometimes in more than one country. While Spell & The Gypsy Collective is lucky to have a close-knit team working together in a dual studio and admin office, the fashion business still has to work hard to ensure it’s providing a positive workplace environment for its entire family.

This became particularly apparent when the business decided to combine its previously separate studio and admin headquarters into one collaborative space.

“Our vision is to be one of the world’s most inspiring and conscious fashion lifestyle brands, therefore, having an inclusive, honest and collaborative environment is very important to us,” Ali Latham, the HR manager at Spell & The Gypsy Collective says.

Workplace culture is important at Spell & The Gypsy Collective HQ.

“When we moved our studio and admin offices into the one headquarters, we asked all teams to brainstorm and bring ideas to the table to ensure we could continue the rituals and cultures that both sites had achieved over the past couple of years,” she says.

In addition to maintaining the culture each member of the business had grown accustomed to, Spell & The Gypsy Collective also set out to create some new rituals that the entire team could adopt while under the one roof. According to Latham, this is particularly important when working within the online retail sphere, as “there are new developments occurring all the time, making it essential to maintain an agile workforce”.

To achieve this, the brand has opened up communication channels, both face-to-face and by utilising technology, to not only improve workplace efficiencies but to also foster the collaborative environment the business prides itself for.

“Our managers regularly hold one on ones and team meetings with our team where we receive feedback on everything and anything. We also have an annual engagement survey to see where our team are at when it comes to what they are looking for in the workplace,” Latham says.

Incorporating Technology to Improve Workplace Culture

As with many businesses, Spell & The Gypsy Collective was struggling to minimise the number of communication channels the company was using.

 “We wanted one place to disseminate information that wouldn’t clog up our inboxes. A place where you can log in and look at information intermittently, or choose what you want to be updated on,” she says.

The solution was Workplace by Facebook. Having used popular platforms like Slack and Trello, it wasn’t until the business started used the Workplace system that staff started to feel like they were on top of things.

“We were early adopters of Workplace. We tried an intranet and it didn’t quite hit the mark for us. A few departments were already using a few other platforms such as Slack or Trello, but when we heard about Workplace, it seemed to solve a few of our immediate issues, and being a platform modelled on Facebook that everyone has seen and used before, there was no training involved,” Latham explains.

According to Luke McNeal, the director of Workplace APAC, the program is an internal communications platform that was launched by Facebook in 2016.

“Online retailers, like the Spell & The Gypsy Collective, use it to engage employees to drive culture and promote openness, feedback and diversity of thought,” he explains.

Open, two-way communication between staff is vital for online retailers.

“Workplace also provides a familiar platform for millennial employees. As new generations continue to enter the workforce, and millennials move more into leadership positions, we’re seeing major cultural changes at companies of all sizes.

“These workers grew up with easy-to-use, mobile-first technology, and they expect the same at work. Ultimately, this generation wants to engage with content in a way that feels familiar to them – through words, yes, but also through gifs, emojis and video… The most agile and forward-thinking companies are dedicated to giving everyone a voice, to help drive change within a company,” he says.

For Latham, the platform has proven to be particularly successful for distributing information and keeping track of various projects and their progress.

“We use Workplace to distribute company-wide information, whether that involves introducing a new staff member, dates of our collection launches, sharing local discounts and benefits, sharing industry news, or to update our office doggy schedule,” she says.

“Departments use groups to collaborate on projects and work that’s in progress. We use the poll feature for quick surveys and immediate feedback. We schedule in events such as training or key cultural activities. We also use the chat function for quick questions or clarification.”

Since adopting Workplace by Facebook, Latham says that there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of internal emails circulating around the office and more positive messages being sent around. “We have found people are more likely to share their wins and news immediately, rather than saving up a few key points to send via email,” she explains.

“Businesses must not lose sight of what makes businesses successful – people. A study of UK business leaders identified that 71 percent of leaders agree that employees have an increasing influence on their organisation and 76 percent believe unlocking employee creativity is vital for growth. This highlights why organisations should put employees at the heart of their business,” McNeal says.

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