For over 16 years, Uber have made their place as an innovative and vibrant business working with companies across the UK. unLTD’s Sasha Mossman caught up with Greg Clark at Uber to find out what makes them tick…
There’s a chance you’re already familiar with Uber’s work – maybe without even realising!
The creative agency’s work has been heavily featured in the entertainment and retail industries – the firm boast an impressive range of past and present clientele, including Netflix, Tombola, BAFTA, Wavin, and a nine-year stint with DFS.
On the back of a recent relocation to the trendy Eagle Works offices on Kelham Island, the firm – who deliver a range of offerings from TV advertising to brand design – are soon to be entering their 17th year of business.
Greg Clark, Director at Uber Agency said: “We have very strong brand credentials, especially in terms of looking after our brands and building anything else.”
Despite having carved out a great heritage for the business for years, Uber have been hit by a lot of confusion regarding a certain ridesharing firm…
“We precede the app by 6 years – although we do sometimes get calls for taxis! We’ve been a top 30 creative agency in this country all this time, so we didn’t want to throw that recognition away with a name change – we stuck to our guns.”
Uber have seen some significant changes in their culture since their early beginnings – although there have been plenty of opportunities for learning across the way.
Greg explained: “One of the biggest things for us in the beginning was that we wanted to create a company that we’d really want to work at. We’d all worked at some rubbish places with rubbish bosses under rubbish circumstances doing all sorts of things and we didn’t want to repeat that.”
“We were very proud of what we’d achieved – but, when you start your own business you make it up as you go along as you’ve never done it before.”
The directorial team discovered that, despite bringing their vision to fruition – creating a so-called Utopia brought structure-related issues to the foreground, and with that, plenty of stress.
“One thing we did do, naively, was decide to not have a traditional pecking order – we all wanted to treat each other as equals. We didn’t want to be known as a corporate company at all, we wanted to have our own relaxed culture – a friendly open honest one.
“Although we had the best intentions, we eventually came to understand why some of the best companies in the world embrace hierarchy – it gets stuff done!
Following this experience, Uber eventually began to use a hierarchy system – although, as Greg continued:
“We tried something different and that’s my only warning to others starting out in the industry – you have to understand why you want to be different and what you want to get out of it. There are certain things we’ve learnt – the hard way – that don’t work.
“It may be cheesy but at Uber, no one works for anyone else – we all work together. We’ve managed to carry our original ethos through to this day. Tradition isn’t always bad, but we certainly don’t have a traditional attitude.”
Uber believe that the quality of the office space itself is crucial to providing a positive company culture. The agency had stints working in offices in Attercliffe and Parkhill before their most recent relocation to Kelham Island, which has proven extremely beneficial to staff morale.
Greg added: “We always wanted a great place for our staff to work – you have to spend eight hours in an office each day so it needs to inspire people in their work – where you work and how you operate the space is massively crucial to what you do.”
Flexible working hours have also become a staple in Uber’s ethos. Maintaining a solid work/life balance is key to the team, especially as – at least for most of the long-standing staff – many have started their families whilst working at Uber.
“We’ve had plenty of discussions, and the consensus is that staff want a better work/life balance – to be able to deal with out-of-work commitments, including family duties.
“When we first started the company, none of us had kids, but now most of us do, so we appreciate and understand the need to have family time. It’s important to everybody so we’ve built that into our structure – helping people live both their work and personal lives. We try to help in every way we can.
“Our culture is ever-evolving, ever-changing and constantly being discussed – to stay ahead, you have to move with the times and also with the people.”