My Second Home: Jules Cross

Culture and Development, Life Size Media

Life Size Media is the leading communications agency in Europe working exclusively in cleantech. They excel in making complex technology accessible and engaging, with campaigns focused on helping clients achieve their commercial objectives. With a track record of successful pan-European campaigns, we caught up with Second Home member Jules Cross, who is in charge of Culture and Development, to talk about the company’s approach to agile working in an ever-changing media environment.

What is the best bit about working at Life Size Media?

The ability to create change.

How are Life Size Media disrupting your industry?

In our own way we are challenging the way that people see the ‘cleantech’ industry through PR and branding. We focus on the idea of storytelling and converting high tech language into emotive messaging.

What recent project are you the most proud of and why?

Converting Life Size Media into an agile working company. It was part of a massive cultural change to empower the team and shift the dynamic to everyone being responsible and accountable for delivering work. By allowing the team to make all the decisions of ‘how’ they work we can now focus more energy on development and new business to make the company stronger.

How did you go about that?

It took a shift in management styles. It has been really successful so far. It affects everything we do, including hiring — we want to make sure we hire skilled people who take responsibility for getting what they need to carry out their jobs effectively and maximise the value added to the company.

The reason we tell people that we are ‘agile working’ rather than being ‘flexible’ is that agile working is a much bigger cultural shift, alongside working hours that suit the individual. We offer our people the freedom to choose not only the hours they work but also ‘how’ they deliver that work, and encourage them to take ownership of entire projects.

“We offer people the freedom to choose not only the hours they work but also ‘how’ they deliver that work, and encourage them to take ownership of entire projects.”

I sum it up by saying it’s always a balance between the needs of the business and the individual. If we have healthier and happier individuals, who take a real pride in what they do, they will create better work. But you also have to be mindful of company needs, team meetings, whether it’s advantageous to work collaboratively, and whether your other team members need you. One thing that we have found is that face-to-face contact is still really important for our culture and the energy of the team.

What do you want your company to achieve within the next year?

We have just launched workshops for cleantech startups as a way to work with early stage companies when they need our services the most. I would like to expand to doing workshops on culture and work with companies on how to improve their teams’ efficiency, happiness and the value of the work that they produce. I want to see and create actual valuable change in companies so that they are stronger and more likely to succeed.

What advice would you give somebody thinking about starting their own company?

Make sure that you genuinely care about the business you are starting. Hire people that have different skills and qualities to your own. Empower your team to be able to make decisions without the CEO otherwise you will not be able to grow at rate that you will need to sustain your business.

“Empower your team to be able to make decisions without the CEO otherwise you will not be able to grow at rate that you will need to sustain your business.”
Noam Chomsky

What person / company has inspired you the most?

Noam Chomsky for working tirelessly for an entire lifetime to change things that he believes are unfair and unjust. For his clarity and intelligence. Also, Louis Theroux. For always trying to see the human angle in any subject. For approaching people and subjects with integrity.

How has being at Second Home helped your work?

It has facilitated our agile working ethos. Being able to choose where and how we work. Whether it’s a quiet space so we can do dedicated work, the busy Jago restaurant for creative inspiration or a visually pleasing roaming space for a team meeting.

What company at Second Home fascinates you the most?

Visualise. Virtual reality is just cool.

What is your favourite design feature about Second Home?

The biophila. Being surrounded by plants is a total joy.

A selection of plants at Second Home Spitalfields

Outside of work, what place in London stimulates your imagination the most and why?

I’m a bit of London flaneur so walking the London streets is where I find most of my inspiration. Jump off the tube and just head in a vague direction and see where the streets take you. I love the overlapping of the city where old architecture meets new. There are so many hidden streets and spaces in the city that feel silent and spaces that are deafening. If I had to pick a static spot, the V&A gardens. Or Waterloo Bridge.

We ask everyone to select a book that will inspire others and become part of Libreria’s permanent collection. Which book would you choose and why?

The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa. This book came to mind when I thought of Libreria and Second Home, it is set is Lisbon for a start and after reading it, I went to Lisbon for a long weekend and sat in the cafe that the author wrote in daily. Fernando Pessoa was originally a poet and the book is written from a pseudonym, Bernard Soares, or more accurately defined by Fernando Pessoa as ‘Heteronym’ each voice that Pessoa writes from has it’s own distinctive poetic idiom and technique. The book is lyrical and drifts through different phases, the key theme is introspection and questioning of self. It is a strange and wonderful delight, in places it is desolate and other really quite amusing. It is a great book to dip back into years later and pick up a few words or sentences that will transport you back to the world that Bernard Soares inhabits.

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