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Unlimited holidays and flexible remote working boosts creativity at Marbles

Antwerp, October 1st, 2017

Belgian creative agency Marbles, is a digital communications agency with 15 years of experience. There are currently nine dedicated and talented people working at our offices in Antwerp.

We spoke to Evelien Van Ranst, Content Marketeer at Marbles, to find out how the company manages to keep a happy team.

She describes the agency as having “an ‘appetite’ for creating relationships between people and brands, in a digital world. The Marble loves getting results for customers using digital strategies.”

Evelien is 27 years old and at uni studied Dutch, French and Spanish. She then specialised in Business Communications.

Her career started as a junior communications consultant at a PR and communications agency in 2015.”I soon realized that I wanted to focus more on my passion for copywriting and social media,” confesses Evelien and adds “Boy, I was excited when Marbles offered me a job as a Content Marketeer. I’m still learning, but every day at the office is a new adventure I’m gladly willing to be a part of.”

At Marbles she feels very much responsible for what her team is able to achieve. “I’m the oldest of three children, so I always felt a big sense of responsibility towards my two younger brothers. That probably explains why I feel the same way about my team at work. We’re like family. We ride together, we die together.”

Can you describe your agency in three words?

Bold. Charming. Eager.

What ingredients are key to creating a successful team?

In my opinion, communication, and honesty in particular, are key. That’s why at Marbles, we know each other’s darkest secrets. Just kidding of course. But I do think a team should be able to communicate about everything, the good and the bad.

A team can only grow by learning from each other, from each other’s mistakes and successes, and by giving each other feedback, whether it’s positive or negative.

When hiring, which qualities of creativity are you most sensitive to?

Humour. I think people underestimate the power of humour. It shows a great deal about who we are and how we think. It’s a creative way to find common ground, and from there, build relationships with others.

How do you distribute responsibilities amongst your team?

We use Scrum to improve teamwork and distribute responsibilities amongst our team.

Scrum is an agile framework, originally created for software development projects, for completing complex projects. Basically, it comes down to this: a product owner creates a prioritized wish list called a product backlog.

During sprint planning, our team pulls a small chunk from the top of that wish list and decides how to implement those pieces, and reach our goals. Our team has a certain amount of time — a sprint (usually two to four weeks) — to complete the work.

At the end of the sprint, the work should be ready to hand to a customer. Using Scrum, responsibilities are distributed equally over the team, so everyone is committed to complete the work.

How would you describe the creativity culture at your agency?

Creativity is important for a communications agency. Creativity drives innovation and is the key to success for companies who want to stand out from the crowd. But that doesn’t mean a creative mood is always ‘magically’ present.

At Marbles we try to boost creativity in several ways. Every month, we all clear our agendas for a day. On those days – aka Innovation Days – we don’t work for customers, but do something completely different.

How we spend our time on those days is up to us, as long as it contributes to creative results. It’s the perfect occasion to brainstorm about new business concepts for example, or to experiment with new tools.

Is it true that you have unlimited holidays policy? Why? How does it work?

For us at Marbles, it’s important that employees stay excited and motivated to work for our customers. However, if you have other concerns like taking care of your family or children, or if you simply need a break, that can be quite difficult.

The unlimited holidays policy, is aimed at giving Marbles employees the freedom they need.

That way, we don’t have to worry about counting the days of holidays. We’re convinced that there shouldn’t be a fixed number of holidays per person, because every individual is different.

Our ‘work from anywhere’ policy is a wonderful addition to that idea. The mobility problem in Belgium is only getting worse. Relieving our employees of the stress they get from getting to work in time, is a win-win for us.

Can you share with us three essential/strategic questions in job interview for someone that wants to work at Marbles?

There are three questions I like:

Let’s suppose you’re having a business lunch with a client. You order a steak, medium rare, but the waiter brings it to your table well-done. How do you react?

“Did you ever experience a situation in which a colleague made a mistake? How did you react to that mistake and did you do something about it?”

“What do you find important in a job?”

Of course from these answers you’ll have a better understanding of who the person is and a quick view of their personality.

How do you know if a person has what it takes to fit into your company’s culture?

It probably sounds cliché, but you just feel a certain ‘click’ on a professional level as well as on a personal level. You feel as if the person across the table is likeminded, has the same eager, boldness and creativity as the rest of the team, as if he or she can’t wait to deliver some kick-ass results for our customers.

What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate?

We try to look beyond skills and experience. Instead, we try to find the right ‘match’ for our team. We like our ‘team vibe’ at the office, that’s why we like to emphasise on soft and social skills as well. If a person has the right mindset and attitude to master their profession and skill set, we would certainly give them the chance to grow and prove it.

How do you select your specialists?

We try to write vacancies that make people want to apply for the job. Next to that, our salary package mostly focuses on a younger audience. By investing in Marbles’ employer brand, we try to convince the strongest candidates for the job.

After we had a few conversations with our candidates we put their skills – or the potential of their skills – to the test using a practical challenge.

What do you think about freelancers?

On certain occasions we do work with freelancers, but that’s mostly for one-time projects. For long-term collaborations, we rather hire a new team member. It’s difficult to collaborate on the same level with a freelancer as you would with someone on your team.

When do you go to bed and when do you get up?

I’m a morning person. I usually go to bed around 22h30 and get up around 6h30. I don’t (often) snooze.

What book or movie has had the greatest impact on you? Why?

Big Fish. This movie makes me want to take part in an adventure. It gives me the feeling that anyone could be a hero, in his or her own way.

Tell us one thing you love the most about your role and what don’t you like.

I really like that we get so much freedom. At Marbles, the sky’s the limit if you can motivate and argument why you want to do things your way. Every idea is taken seriously. On the downside, that also means that, as a team, you have to take responsibility. Even when things go south or when results aren’t what you expected them to be. But that’s also how you learn and grow as a professional.

Thanks Evelien!

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