"We're Innovating Far Quicker Than We Thought!" Kelly Singleton of MAG-O Talks Agile Working

James Kenealey morson blog


Flexible working has been a hot topic in the recruitment world for a long time. Morson's Head of Professional Services Ben Fitzgerald sat down with Kelly Singleton, HR Director at MAG-O, to find out how their flexible working policies and company culture have combined to create an innovative environment that both attracts and retains talent. 

A lot of companies I've spoken to mention purpose.

Purpose is absolutely key and we're hearing that more and more now speaking to thought leaders. People have to be able to link what they do to what the organisation is delivering so that hasn't changed through agile working and these modern arrangements. It's become even more important because I think people can get lost within that if you don't give them that real link back to what the business is supposed to do. Equally, just treating people like adults and saying "you know what, as long as you deliver what you need to deliver and you collaborate with your colleagues and it's all working well then you can so as you please really. If you want to use the gym in the middle of the day or work from a cafe, do it as long as it's not interfering with your delivery.

Is that genuine? You hear a lot of people saying that but then human nature and the way you've always worked 9-5 might take over. Do people here do that? 

Yes - people have different natural rhythms. My perfect time to exercise is lunch time and we've got several colleagues here who are the same, so it's made a big difference for people. 

So embracing that type of flexibility - what kind of impact has that had on attraction and retention?

I think it's just one of the special things that we do really. I look at our retention rates and they're incredibly good, we haven't had high attrition at all since we started the business two years ago but I can't put that down just to flexibility. I think it's the whole culture end-to-end. 

How's technology played a part here?

When we started, we were in an empty warehouse on the other side of the airport because it was all they could give me that was outside of HQ. It was a really special time outside of our growth and development. You couldn't have felt more startup in that area! Our tech was really limited so as we designed and moved into this building that was one of the core facets of how we were going to develop it. We needed really good tech. When people join us they tell us what tech they need for flexible working and for office working - for example, if they want Apple, they get Apple, if they want Lenovo, they get Lenovo - it doesn't really matter to us! As long as it enables them to do their job. So that's good, a lot of corporations don't really do that in terms of what you can have. 

In the office, we've made sure it's really enabled from a UX testing perspective where we've got really a hi-tech kit, but we've also got surface hubs all over in each of the core meeting areas and the auditorium, so that helps people wherever they are in the world. Some of our guys have a global remit, so that helps people dial in and collaborate on projects and documents from wherever they are which has been a real game changer. It's taken us far ahead of where MAG was with its IT capabilities.

How did you manage to embrace that digital culture but keep performance up?

It became easier and more measurable than ever! One of the things the board was worried about was if we implemented agile ways of working, does that mean we lose some control over the money we spend, the income we generate and how we run things. But what they found when they learned about agile ways of working was that we were innovating far more quickly than we ever thought we would. We exceeded our targets in year one when we were still growing the business and we continue to expect to do so, so we've found it had the opposite effect than feared and helped us measure things and perform better than ever.