Where we’ve come from

At Ethos we have been on a journey that we often refer to as an ongoing experiment into the Future of Work. We’ve been travelling for 20 years and practising hard for the last 10. There is no doubt that we have learned a lot. We’ve experienced many bumps in the road along the way, but it’s from the bumps that we learn most. Ten years on and in the wake of ten weeks of lockdown we have just started proactively recruiting again. It’s an exciting time for us as we pilot some new ideas and processes to smooth the way into (and out of) this organisation. Ongoing experimentation as we said! 

In 2013 we needed people, we called them Knowledge Workers, or “all round goodies” as some referred to them.  Our challenge then and our challenge now is helping individuals understand what this thing Ethos is, how it is different and of course the key benefits of spending a little time on your work journey with us. 

Six years ago we ran a pretty traditional recruitment campaign, put out a job ad, waited for CVs to pour in, went through a process of initial down-selecting and THEN wrote to the successful candidates with a qualifying note which basically said “Working with Ethos is both a lifestyle choice, and an investment”. We could work with any shape or form of flexibility that a life could require (we still do) but we were looking for co-investors, investing time not money. Reward would only come from value that we created together with the individual’s contribution.  People who joined at that time have described it as taking a Leaf of Faith.

Where are we now?

By June 2020, we’ve run several £1m+ projects, spun off independent organisations, had our fair share of failures, are in the midst of co-venturing on a number of new opportunities and are developing ideas for the future. It’s all go and we need people again. However, “Working with Ethos is both a lifestyle choice, and an investment” remains true but we have a much clearer idea of what the Value Exchange is for people coming on board and how to help Partners. Examples may be helping you invest your time to develop your  business plan, or co-venturing and achieving a sustainable reward whilst doing something you have a passion for and ultimately taking that out of Ethos. It’s OK to leave, that’s always part of the plan! We want you to pass through Ethos not see us as “job for life” our work metaphor is “transition”.  

It would be wrong to say the “leap of faith” has gone away completely, as with always when an individual embarks on something different, it leads to a few second thoughts and a moment of discomfort, all of which are fine. But we have turned this on it’s head and believe that working in this way has great benefits, some are obvious and others less so, but all are aspects of this Future of Work organisation. We are always striving for greater clarity about how individuals should engage successfully with Ethos. This is really important to us moving forward so we’ve had a stab at what the list of benefits looks like today:

Your business plan is YOUR business plan

An important part of an individual’s Value Exchange is their business plan. Building a business plan is the responsibility of the individual. You have the controls.  This usually takes the form of an individual investing some of their time to understand how and where they might engage with Ethos, through one or many conversations across the organisation. As part of these activities you will be shaping what projects you can deliver value to and what financial return can be achieved from that engagement. In effect, you are responsible for what you get paid, backed by your agreed business plan. Your business plan is yours to shape and does require initial investment of your time.

This is YOUR journey into the Future of Work

Ethos has a clear vision for the Future of Work and everything we do reflects that. Our overarching raison d’étre is to support individuals on their work journey, we sometimes refer to that as your journey from A=>B or your work transition. This starts with the development of a Value Exchange, which provides the focus for YOUR journey and helps us all understand what we need to do together to support YOU from A=>B. 

Variety is the spice of life

We are often working on a number of projects at any one time and if an individual wants to build a business case that encompasses several of those projects then they can certainly enjoy the variety our portfolio brings. That said, there can also be variety within a single project or business area (we call them “themes”) as we see opportunities for individuals to perform a full range of roles as defined by the scope of a project. For example a project could require Account Management, Events organisation,Financial management, Business development etc. An individual can choose to build a business case to incorporate much variety. 

Experience a culture of innovation

We are at our most excited as an organisation when we are innovating. We are not about change for change sake but we are about doing things very differently, being agile (we use SCRUM) and making changes when necessary. This can require constant innovation and makes for an exciting place to be. We positively encourage and give permission for people to innovate.

Championing REAL flexibility

There is a lot of talk about the importance of flexibility, and we can see moves in the right direction, 4 day weeks, reduced hours, flexible work times etc but for us this always falls short of what we termed REAL flexibility. At Ethos Partners can drop and pick children up from school whenever that needs to be done, we understand this can change every day/every minute!. Some of us work less hours during the school holidays and that’s fine. Taking a sabbatical for a few months, can easily be discussed and arranged appropriately. If we need to go off and care for my elderly parents because their shopping hasn’t arrived then that’s all ok and just part of the daily pulls on a person’s life. Working Wed, Thurs and Sun, that’s OK too as long as it’s all agreed as part of a Value Exchange. REAL flexibility requires an organisation to be patient and accept things may take a little longer than the speed of light and in return leads to improved engagement and better wellbeing amongst our partners. It takes some doing but it’s worth it!

Everything we do is about helping you and others make a positive social impact

Read our blog and understand our “themes”, the areas of interest we are currently working in. It’s always about social value, it’s always about improving communities (according to their interests). You can be sure we don’t compromise on that!

How much holiday? As much as you need

Holidays are important, a time to relax, rewind and recover. Mental and physical wellbeing can be dependent on them, so we encourage all our partners to take the holiday they need. We monitor this quite closely as we find people who are happy at work often don’t actually take enough!!

Phun – Our not so secret fourth value

We decided a long long time ago that it was really important to have fun at work. Engagement in Ethos projects should be enjoyable and you have permission to laugh a lot! For one thing it’s healthy! Read more about our values here.

You get your share – LLP Profit share and Value Recognition

Ethos Ventures LLP is our newly founded organisation, which has given us the ability to achieve our long term aim for us to make up our own governance rather than sticking to the norms of shareholdings and Boards.  All our previous ventures took this form. By joining Ethos you become an owner via your profit share and partner status in the LLP. Companies House has the current list of partners at any one time. As well as influencing the organisation – with your equal voice and providing your Value Exchange is up to date we record all of your work (especially the work without direct remuneration) and make sure this is reflected in your future profit share.  We call this Value Recognition.

Work Live Well (you have to be well to work!)

A long time ago we agreed that as an individual it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to try and separate ‘Work me” and “Home me”, that’s just not what life is like. Much better to embrace the fact that life goes on and people need to manage it. This belief remains a big part of how we operate at Ethos. A couple of years ago we adopted a shorthand, Work Live Well, which we apply to everything we do inside and outside Ethos. Importantly inside we encourage our Partners to talk/share when they are not feeling so well, physically and/or mentally. We ensure everyone has a Wellbeing mentor, (not a qualified clinical practitioner), simply someone they can talk to and look to ensure there is a focus on “getting better” not simply “ploughing on”. In parallel, we also assign everyone a Work mentor, this is someone who can help facilitate a Partner’s navigation from A=>B on their work journey. These transitions are never straight forward and can require honest conversations and regular adjustment. This is where a Work Mentor comes in to help you.

The ultimate aim is to leave Ethos!

Our mission is to incubate as many new social ventures as we possibly can and for those entities to thrive and survive in the long term and to make the World a better place.  In order for us to build this ecosystem far and wide and to truly make the world a better place your time “incubating” is likely to be short as the real change comes through your role(s) in businesses that exist outside Ethos.  Unlike traditional organisation (some may describe as “up or out”) perfection to us is leaving Ethos. Whether in a venture or another organisation, our hope is that you learn something about yourself you did not know.  Our hope is that you feel more empowered. That you become more personally resilient. That you see the choices you have and exercise those choices wherever you may work in future.

So, over to you, we’re recruiting, if you like what you’ve read and are keen to investigate more then check out how right here.

Author

  • One person, two areas of interest: Being the best mother I can and staying sane by working with Ethos as we try to build the future of work