5 July 2015

Explaining to our accountant why we needed 120 tonnes of sand to create a beach in the car park wasn’t the easiest task I’ve ever taken on. “Because it’s sunny and Manchester doesn’t have a beach” isn’t quite the conversation closer I thought it was.

beachSo, why did we bring the seaside to the city?

Well, at about this time last weekend, as we anticipated the great British heatwave, I announced ‘National Beach Week’ as a way to encourage everyone to come to work in their flip flops.

Whilst I hadn’t quite anticipated the volume of dodgy Hawaiian shirts and blindingly bright shorts this would bring in, it certainly raised a smile in the office and made sure nobody was left to swelter in a suit.

Personally, I think the reasons behind this first stage of Beach Week are common sense. It’s counterproductive to enforce strict dress codes when the weather is so warm. The temperature, whether too hot or too cold, has adverse effects on productivity, focus and creativity so it stands to reason that if your team is sitting uncomfortably in stiff suit jackets on a blisteringly hot day, you’re not going to get the best out of them, and they’re not going to enjoy being there.

When it comes to business, it’s no longer about rigid rules and regulations, it’s about doing things differently to get optimum results. Energy is more important than following the rules, in my opinion.

gamesAs for the beach, the ice-cream van, the pool and the giant inflatable games; it simply comes down to looking after the team.

People might roll their eyes when I say my purpose is to make people’s lives better, easier and happier, but when I lay in bed at night, my first thought before closing my eyes is how many people I have made smile that day. Has it been enough? How could I have been a better listener, a better leader and a better husband and father? This is how I measure success.

I’m committed to making UKFast an extraordinary environment that you couldn’t find elsewhere. I think, in Britain, when we build buildings – particularly office spaces – we don’t necessarily create enough recreational spaces outside. I don’t like the phrase ‘outside the box’, but maybe we need to be thinking ‘outside the building’ too. Life is too short not to enjoy the sunshine when it finally appears, especially in Manchester. We’ve been waiting a long time for a nice summer, us Brits, and we deserve one.

Perhaps that’s the real reason behind Beach Week, and the answer to the question, “Why? Why build a beach in the middle of Hulme? Do the team need it?”

Maybe not. But they deserve it; that I know for sure.

And when you see the energy these kinds of experience generate, it all makes perfect sense.

beeeachIt’s time to do things differently in business. A new era is coming. It’s the only way to get (and more importantly keep) great people.

The most dynamic, passionate individuals are looking for something different when it comes to their careers and how they want to live their lives. Traditional employee benefits come as standard now. If you want to be a business that stands the test of time, you’ve got to go bigger.

And, at the end of the day, if all that dressing down and building a gigantic beach in the car park has achieved is to put a smile on people’s faces then it’s been worth it.

Not everything that counts can be counted.

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