Going on sabbatical - a feature not a bug

Tim Deeson

Feb 26 2016


Our digital agency effectively started in 2001 when I was making websites (in Adobe Dreamweaver!) for clients. Organic business growth has meant that I’ve worked in many roles here. Having been at the centre of the business for so long, I found the hardest skill to learn was how to let go.

I’ve spent the past year collaborating with a group of talented people to create a vision of our future. It has been incredibly rewarding to witness what has happened at Deeson over the last twelve months.

Distributed working

We are fully committed to distributed working and are now celebrating the expansion of our team across Europe. Flexible working locations and hours have proven to be a success with our clients because our people take full responsibility to make sure they contribute and support each other every day. We are known for the quality of our communications across the entire team - no gatekeepers here.

Flat organisational structure

We’ve gone with the delivery pod model and they are now up and running - multi-disciplinary, self-organising teams with a portfolio of clients and projects to manage. And there is a leadership team made up of people from around the business that sets out our medium and long term goals, meeting weekly to track progress and ensure client work remains at the highest standards.

Future growth

My learning to let go has enabled how we work, who we hire and what’s possible in the future to expand beyond what I had imagined. In addition to our enterprise Drupal expertise, we’re now also offering services in WordPress, Symfony and Laravel. And the growing reputation of our design and UX services has been bolstered by the hiring of our first Creative Director, Andrew Larking. He’s already making a mark on the work we deliver.

High client satisfaction

Of course, none of this would matter if our client satisfaction had slipped, but that’s not the case. We are winning new business, and continuing to enjoy repeat assignments with our current clients, more than ever before. We are also growing our team. This wouldn’t be possible without our evolution - harnessing the energy and passion of an inspiring group of people who are proud of their work and how it benefits their clients.

Time for personal development

This momentum has made a personal goal possible for the first time - a five-week sabbatical. Japan and Burma are countries that I’ve always wanted to visit. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to change my setting and focus completely, and know the company is set to grow in my absence.

Mandatory sabbacticals

A friend recently shared the idea of mandatory sabbaticals after five years of employment. The rationale was that it gives you the benefits of long term staff retention whilst giving the company and the individual the chance to avoid getting too set in their world views. We pride ourselves on our permanent team and long-term client relationships. This feels like a great complement to our way of working. Watch this space!

I wrote a blog post on Facilitation over management and gave a conference talk on creating a collaborative agency culture that scales if you're interested in our thinking.

And we're recruiting to our distributed team - if you share our values and are looking for a challenge then find out what it's like to work at Deeson.

Tim Deeson

About the author

Tim Deeson

Agency Founder

Tim's focus at the agency is culture and growth, including new services and technologies. Recent work has centred on self-organising teams and how the digital sector can become more inclusive.