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Exercise and the Pub: The Secret to Equality in the Workplace

Some new ideas are helping IT company MirrorSphere buck the trend when it comes to female representation in the technology industry.

The Oxfordshire-based business boasts a female director and a fresh approach to gender equality, both of which are helping the company thrive.

Home working, flexible working hours, increased holiday and time off for school and family events are all part of a strategy helping to boost staff morale and keep women – and men – on board.

MirrorSphere, an Oxfordshire-based IT support and data management company, has also introduced lunch time walks, time off for exercise sessions and ‘pub Friday’ to boost staff morale.

Kelsa Duffield, one of MirrorSphere’s three Directors said: “Companies should not be afraid to embrace new ideas. A happy workforce makes for a productive business, and we have certainly seen the benefits of trying out new ideas to ensure happiness and equality.”

At MirrorSphere, employees use a range of technologies for sharing documents, diverting calls and conducting online meetings. This enables flexibility, allowing staff to work at home or on the go while retaining constant communication with the rest of the team.

Those who are physically in the office all take turns to make the coffee, including the Managing Director. This is all part of the company’s inclusive approach and team-working ethos.

Kelsa said: “If someone wants to go and see their child in a play, it’s not a problem; if someone has to work from home because they are waiting for a delivery, it’s fine. As long as the work is being done and the team is in touch through online channels then everything runs smoothly.

“We understand that family comes first and we don’t want people to miss out on important occasions which create memories for life, so we allow employees to attend school events without using up valuable annual leave.

“It’s proved to be a very successful approach and we’re always looking at new ways to adapt and improve when it comes to equality and technology.

“I would most certainly encourage other companies to think about introducing some of our ideas. With today’s technology there is no reason why we can’t have a fully flexible 21st century workforce.”

MirrorSphere is also making its mark by encouraging more girls and young women into the sector. MirrorSphere Future Tech Star, a competition launched earlier this year offering a £1,500 tech bundle, received hundreds of entrants and produced two female teenage finalists – one who had started her own code club and another who had designed a medical app.

MirrorSphere’s Managing Director Spencer Dauphin said: “We really believe it’s important to engage young people and encourage both genders into the sector - get them interested at a young age and the chances are they’ll be hooked.

“It’s not about having one rule for women and another for men – it’s about a flexible approach which allows both genders to attain a work/life balance and work as a team.

“We come up with new ideas all the time and it really helps to create a loyalty, positive attitudes, strong teamwork and productive working days, as well as improving staff retention. Because we offer that flexibility and we listen to our team, people are happier and more willing to go above and beyond what’s required.”

So what are the secrets? Some of the ideas introduced by MirrorSphere:

- Home working

- Up-to-the-minute collaboration technology

- Time off for events such as school plays

- Exercise time during office hours

- Extended leave in school holiday

- Flexible working hours

- A scheme to encourage youngsters into the industry

- ‘Pub Friday’ – a chance to get together and discuss ideas

- Lunchtime walks to boost energy for afternoon working