Where and when we work

Where do I work?

This information is for team members employed by Deeson Group Ltd and Deeson Publishing Ltd.

You choose – the aim is to be wherever you're most effective.

Our approach – and our success – is based on tight collaboration between people who know each other well. This is vital.

Everyone has a working location defined in their contract – London office or Canterbury office. However, where you choose to work from day-to-day is up to you.

We have some days that we try to make sure we're working together in the same place - more on that here.

Experience says that an effective working location is going to:

  • Have a reliable and high-speed internet connection, and power supply.

  • Have a comfortable chair and desk or table.

  • Be quiet and free from distractions to allow your work to be your sole focus.

An easy test is – could you hold a video conference call with a client from where you are working?

Remember, if you’re working with confidential information on your screen, then make sure you’re working somewhere that is appropriate for that.

How will people know where I am?

It’s really important that Bamboo (our holiday booking system) and your own Forecast and Google Calendar are up to date – the onus is on you. It’s annoying for other people trying to book meetings or plan their collaboration with you otherwise.

The emphasis is on frictionless communication, not tracking – it shouldn’t matter where you are, as long as it’s easy to get in touch.

When do I work?

How many hours do I work?

Our model working week is 35 hours. Sometimes it’s necessary to work more and sometimes we have slack time. For tracking purposes, a working week runs Monday to Sunday.

What are core hours?

Core working hours are Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm UK time.

During these core hours, everyone should be available to collaborate with colleagues, regardless of whether they’re in the same physical location or time zone.

It’s not about being at a screen 100% of that time; going for a coffee or taking a lunch break is assumed. It’s to make booking meetings or knowing when most people are available easier.

Personal billable hours targets

For Deeson to be successful commercially, our model is based on team members achieving their target for client chargeable work each week (a minimum of 31 hours of your time worked in a typical 35 hour week).

There are lots of good reasons why this number goes down as well as up, but this gives us a baseline to forecast on.

Sometimes this won’t be possible for reasons outside of your control – for example, if there’s an internal project you’re working on or if there’s not enough client work in your schedule.

But you do need to be proactive in working towards that target and showing good use of your time.

Some weeks you’ll need to do more than your target for chargeable work, to be able to fulfil your commitments.

How do non-billable things like new business or own site maintenance affect billable targets?

If you work on any of the activities below in a particular week, the hours will be retrospectively removed from your target for that week.

We do this as it's important to manage your own billability over an extended period. Where you work on non-billable tasks listed below, this shouldn't affect your achievement of your billable hours target in the longer-term. That's why we remove those hours retrospectively.

The type of tasks that this applies to are:

  • Work on the Deeson site.

  • Work on any internal marketing.

  • New business and pitches.

  • Training/conferences.

  • Technical tasks that are required to keep us going – e.g. looking after our deployment system and servers.

  • Onboarding/supporting new team members.

  • Recruitment tasks, e.g. interviews.

What do I need to do every week to manage my targets?

There are lots of very good reasons that we don’t all hit the target numbers each week.

Some of our most useful time is unbillable, for example investing in people and processes. The process of reviewing what’s happened and planning for the next week are the important bits.

Before the start of each week, you are responsible for reviewing your Forecast schedule and checking you’re on track for your personal billable target.

If you’re not, then speak to your team colleagues to see how you can make the best use of your time this week

Before the end of each week, you must make sure your Harvest is up-to-date and you’ve logged all your billable and non-billable hours – remember, that’s your personal least billable target and 35 hours in total each week.

Check against your targets using this Harvest report.

If I work 60 hours one week, can I reduce the hours that I work the following week?

There are a lot of variables but there should be an easy to find an answer that everyone’s happy with.

In general, if you’re consistently doing a high number of hours then something is going wrong somewhere, but it can happen.

For example, if you had to dig yourself out of an unavoidable hole one week then it doesn’t really make sense that there’s then a vicious circle of consequential problems for other projects the following week.

However, if you saved a client from a certain embarrassment of their own making and need to take it a bit easy to recover, and if you can hit your own key commitments, then it’s hard to imagine why there’d be a problem. The bottom line is that it’s the results that count, not hours.

The key thing here is communicating effectively with your fellow team members so they know what’s happening and what you’re doing about it.

Why track hours at all?

We’re an agency and the industry model is based on billable days.

We're working on evolving from this but right now our time is what we sell.

Does travel time count against billable hours?

The goal of flexible working is to align your objectives with the company’s and get out of the way. If the company can bill the time, then of course it counts as billable for you too.

If you can’t work when you’re travelling – for example, you’re driving and that’s the best way to go – then it’s fair that it counts as billable.

If you’re travelling by train or plane, you could choose to work (and it counts towards your billable) or you could choose not to (and it doesn’t). The reality of most of the travel we do is that you can work if you prepare or choose to.

Time planning works for team members in their first year.

All new team members get a personal billable target that increases during their first year, to reflect onboarding and training time.

New staff members' time on projects is scheduled based on their billability. So, if you are due to work a 35 hour week and you are 40% billable then only 14 hours is scheduled on projects and 21 hours is scheduled for training in that week.

Everyone records their time in Harvest. As a new starter, you will be given a task to do and be told how long the task has been quoted to take in hours. You should book the time spent on a task as billable and against the relevant project, until you reach the quoted time, at which point you should switch your timer to your training project.

This approach only applies to new starters. Once your training plan has you working at your full billable hours target then you should no longer book overspend on tasks to training.

This means:

  • We have defined in advance what level we expect new team members to be working to.

  • We only bill the client and project the amount of time originally quoted.

  • We plan new starters’ time using Forecast so that the predicted project end and budget burn can be accurately reviewed.

  • Over-run on tasks by new production team members is tracked as training time.

  • The number of billable hours versus training hours can be reviewed monthly and compared against the original plan.

  • Variance between our original expectation and reality can be seen early and acted upon.

Here’s an example of how it works in practice for new team members:

Charlie is in the second month of working for Deeson. His billability target is currently 40%. Charlie works a 35 hour week and so is expected to do 14 billable hours on project work this week.

Charlie is assigned a six hour task and a eight hour task.

It only takes him four hours to complete the six hour task. He logs four hours to the project. He high fives his team members who congratulate Charlie for his innovative approach to solving this problem.

He then moves onto the eight hour task. After reading the requirements of the task and talking through the approach with the other members of the team, it is clear that Charlie is going to need some time to read about an unfamiliar area of work. In total, the task takes 22 hours to read about and complete. He logs eight hours to the project and 14 hours to training.

Charlie is ahead this week so the team helps him pick up additional tasks from the project backlog.

At the end of the month, he has logged 56 hours to projects and 84 hours to training and so is 40% billable. His Chapter Lead reviews his work with a senior member of the team and together with Charlie, discuss what aspects of the projects he is currently finding challenging. This is an opportunity for Charlie to raise any training issues and concerns. His development plan is updated and Charlie is ready to approach the next month, expecting to deliver 60% billability.

The flexible working small print

We do have to reserve the right to direct an individual's working times or places to ensure that things run smoothly for everyone. This hasn't happened yet.

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