We catch up with an early adopter of Timetastic to see how their journey's going.

Fitness for work is a term that comes up fairly often these days, usually after a hefty dose of the lurgy. At Leeds-based digital agency Engage Interactive, however, things are taken to the next level.

So keen is this company to maintain — and encourage — a healthy team that as well as making sure they’ve got an incredibly versatile working space with all the mod cons they could ever ask for, they’re now in their fourth year of the Engage Elympics.

This contest sees staff compete against each other to run, cycle and swim their way to the top of the leaderboard, raising money for local charities in the process. Each mile on two wheels is worth 20p, but if you were to swim that distance instead you’ve landed £4 due to the higher effort required, or as director Alex Willcocks puts it, “how much you suffer”.

Alex says: “We’ve tied it into exercising in an effort to improve the general health and wellbeing of the team and make us the fittest agency on the block.”

With one of the highest staff retention rates in its industry, though, this appears to be a highly motivated team — or are they merely gluttons for punishment?

Gruelling exercise to raise money for charity, what a lovely bunch

So, what do they do?

“If it’s digital, we probably do it,”

says Alex, highlighting the adaptability of their operation. But if we must be more specific, then Engage “offer everything from web and game design and development through to content marketing, paid advertising and more”.

It all started in 2007 when Alex and Dave Wrightson decided to go it alone after working together at an agency. “Between us we had all the skills to deliver end-to-end web projects,” Alex says. “Fast-forward to today and there are now 34 of us working from our office in Leeds, with Dave and I spending the majority of our time planning with the future direction of the business.”

Something you’ll read a few times around their stunning open-plan office is “attention to digital”, a value which has become so important to them they’ve even made it a trademark. Alex says:

“We always like to go that extra mile with the work we produce; adding an extra level of finesse.”

The team certainly pulled out all the stops for bed brand Harrison Spinks, who enlisted Engage’s help to create an extremely classy website to raise awareness of their name — and products — and grow their business. The Engage team got stuck in with a full audit of their client’s website analytics and user journey, a fragmented affair given the numerous sub-brands available. The new website united the product lineup and made the range much easier to navigate and explore. Harrison Spinks’ Head of Marketing Esme Westmoreland said Engage were a “great extension of our team” and added retail partners provided “great feedback” on the new site.

The team worked tirelessly on the new website

What's it like to work there?

“The atmosphere is always pretty lively here”, Alex says, realising the effect an airy 6,500 sq ft space has on people. “But there are various break-out areas for when people need to get their head into some focused work. It’s a balance that seems to be working well so far, although there’s often a battle over the music playlist.”

Modern ways

Having grown to 17 times its original size, traditional methods for managing annual leave and staff absence could no longer cut it for this modern workforce. Alex says:

“We used to have a simple Excel sheet which was manually updated. People used to request holiday via email and then we’d update our shared calendar accordingly. It worked, but it wasn't particularly scaleable and it needed quite a lot of administration-as well as being prone to human error.”

With a healthy work-life split so important these days, it’s good to hear the team’s wellness is high up the priority list. Alex says:

“Balance is essential in being able to work at an optimum level, so taking time off to recharge and do the things you love, with the people you love is crucial.”

“Taking time off to refocus is essential and it’s something we encourage the team to take full advantage of, too.”

What led Engage to sign up for Timetastic?

Engage started using Timetastic in 2013, making them one of the app’s earliest adopters. It won’t be long before they’re celebrating six years of stress-free leave planning. Perhaps they’ll mark the occasion by doing something light-hearted and fun like running a load of marathons.

“As a company working in digital, we’re always on the lookout for digital solutions that make our lives easier and more efficient.

"Dealing with absence, through holiday, sick days or other, seemed an obvious area where a digital solution could offer numerous improvements over a manual process.”
A nice cosy booth away from the hubbub

Block-booking in just a couple of clicks

Having embraced a digital way of dealing with staff absence, where is Timetastic making a difference for this growing team?

Alex says the app’s block-booking functionality is frequently useful. “We have a compulsory shutdown over the Christmas period and now we’re able to easily block-book this for the whole company in a couple of clicks, rather than having to do it for each individual.”

That’s quite a turnaround. Alex also mentions a lot of headaches are saved each new year by the automatic carrying over of allowance, and being able to set limits adds to the usefulness.

What’s more, with home-working becoming increasingly popular these days, Timetastic has helped support Engage’s new policy which allows people to book home-working days which don’t affect their holiday allowance but show up on the calendar so everyone knows what’s going on.

Favourite features? Alex says: “We have the Slack integration set up, which makes it really easy to see and approve leave requests without having to even log into my Timetastic account.”

With a healthy work-life balance, this team is often full of beans

No more sore heads

One of the biggest benefits of using Timetastic is how easy it is for the team to see who’s in as well as making it easy for people to book the time off they have worked their socks off for.

“I think the team find it really useful and simple to use,”

says Alex. “In regards to a particularly useful feature, we post a list of absentees (sick and working from home) into Slack at 8am each morning, which the team find helpful as it’s easy to be out of the loop with who is in and out of the office as the team grows.”

As we head for the finish line, Alex rounds things off with a neat summary: “If making efficiencies and streamlining processes is high on your agenda as a business, then Timetastic does a great job of both; taking the headache out of managing your team’s time off.”