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Balance Beam #5 – Max Australia & Spectrum Communications

Welcome to our latest ‘Balance Beam’ work life balance profile, brought to you by Max Australia & Spectrum Communications from Max Australia & Spectrum Communications.

We will be regularly placing our focus on organisations from Australia, New Zealand and around the globe who are implementing work life balance initiatives into their organisation. Our aim is to inspire you to seek greater work life balance inside and outside your business.

I hope you enjoy our first ‘Balance Beam’ profile, and if you would like your organisation profiled on our blog we would love to hear from you. Please scroll to the end of this post for further information.

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Name: Laura Skelley

Title: Group Managing Director

Company: Max Australia & Spectrum Communications

Country: Australia

State/Province: NSW

Years in business: 15

Number of staff including business owner: 20



1. What are some of the work life balance issues your organisation faces?

The PR industry often has issues with work life balance as our knowledge,  expertise and time are what our clients buy from us.  Billable hour requirements and client needs often see many agencies overworking their staff.

Another factor is that we have clients who are based in countries around  the world, so we often receive email requests or need to attend conference  calls outside of normal Australian business hours.

Launches, client events or just last minute reporting requests can also  require additional hours from our teams.

2. What work life balance initiatives do you have in your organisation, big or small?

  • We  offer a range of flexible working options.  The majority of our staff is female and we have several working
    mums.  For example, we may negotiate a  four day week or the option of working from home for a day.  Other staff members have organised to start  their day later and leave later in order to fit in with their lifestyle
  • We  provide our staff with several extra days off over the Christmas period that are  not deducted from their annual leave allowance.  It gives everyone the chance to enjoy a nice ‘free’ summer break
  • We  closely manage staff workloads via a monthly capacity planner to ensure none of our staff members is overloaded with work and also to make sure the workload is  well divided amongst our teams
  • We  have lower required billable hours than many agencies to allow our staff extra time for training, networking and improving their industry knowledge.
  • As we work in technology we enable our staff to work outside the office via BlackBerries and other technology
  • We  have fun! Whether it is ‘Friday wine  time’ where we stop work an hour early, have a glass of wine and a chat, our
    off-site company planning days or social activities such as Melbourne Cup, we  really enjoy spending time with our co-workers

3. What have been the main benefits to your organisation of these initiatives?

  • Staff  retention; If you don’t burn them out and allow them to have well rounded lives employees will want to stay with the organisation longer
  • Engaged  teams who feel part of the company and take ownership of its goals and direction
  • Our  work-life balance initiatives enable mums to be back in the workforce by  providing them with the flexibility they need to be great mums and great staff  members
  • More  creative and strategic thinking and output from our teams.  With more time to network and learn about our  clients’ industries, and without being overworked, we are better able to  develop insightful campaigns for our clients.
  • Because  we are flexible with staff around their personal needs, they are more willing to be flexible and put in long hours at those times where it is actually needed
  • A  great place to work.  It is a really happy, energised and supportive environment

4. Have there been any obstacles or issues in implementing your work life balance initiatives?

Not  really.  Most of our staff have worked in  other agencies and they really value the focus we put around work life balance,
not just paying lip service to it.  The  hardest thing is actually convincing interviewees that we actually do have work
life balance here.  Most agencies will  say it, fewer actually commit to making it happen.

5. Do you conduct any regular surveying or evaluation of your work life initiatives?

We  have regular catch ups with individual staff members.  This allows us to not only provide them with feedback about how they are performing but to ask for their input into our HR  initiatives, cultural initiatives and any areas of concern.  We also have an active mentoring program  where more senior staff members work with junior members on an array of issues,  including time and stress management.

6. What are some of your own personal work life balance and/or time management tips?

  • Before  I read emails or do any work related activity, I start each day with an hour long walk with my dogs.  This allows me
    to clear my head and start the day energised.
  • I  make good use of technology to allow me to keep up to date on work regardless  of where I am.
  • I  have scheduled days when I leave the office a bit early so I can take a Yoga or  Pump class.
  • To  Do Lists keep me on track.  I try to  limit them to urgent activities and only put on items I know can realistically
    be completed in a day.  If you put  everything you need to do in the week on the list it can be daunting.  I also make sure the list is organised by  priority and deadline.
  • Set  aside time to work on difficult tasks and make sure everyone knows you will not  be available.
  • Spend  time talking with the teams.  It is important  to have a bit of down time, fun and the ability to chat about our lives in the
    midst of our busy days.
  • Don’t  overwork your staff.  I often walk around  the office and tell people it is time to go home!
  • Go  for a walk outside the office for a bit of fresh air each day.  We all have days when we need to eat lunch at our desks but even then a 10- minute stroll outside will help refresh you.

7. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Read, walk my dogs, meals with friends, go to see live music, yoga, exercise, learning new skills (trying to learn the guitar at the moment), talking with my  family.

8. Tell us about your organisation. What are the key services of your organisation and what is your target market?

We have two highly respected PR companies under our group umbrella, both specialising in providing PR, social media and event services to technology related companies.

Max Australia does PR. Not just any PR, our campaigns influence the people who matter to our client’s brands – from general consumers to the highest-level enterprise!  We push the boundaries.  Developing exciting, engaging campaigns that deliver against business objectives, merging traditional and social media, experiential events and influencer relations.

Spectrum Communications has ways of making them talk (about you)!  We develop creative, cut-through PR and social media campaigns that get noticed. From large enterprises to innovative start-ups, Spectrum helps manage the reputations of their clients. That is why some of the world’s leading technology, corporate and online companies work with Spectrum.

9. What is your role within the organisation?

Group Managing Director

Abbie’s Comments: “Many organisations where staff regularly work outside of the traditional 9-5 feel it is near impossible to offer real work life balance. Laura shows that just a little bit of creativity can make it a reality!”

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