5 HOXBIES TALK JOB SATISFACTION, GREAT TEAMMATES, COMMUNITY, WORKSTYLE AND TIME ZONES.
At Hoxby, we like to think differently because we are different. Our mission is to create a world of work without bias, bringing the best brains together from our diverse freelance community to deliver you refreshing results. From smaller projects to working with a global corporation, our approach is to carefully hand-pick talented Hoxbies from our global community to bring our clients diverse, experienced and skilled teams matched to their brief. Unlike other agencies and consultancies, we champion every Hoxby to develop their own workstyle, so they can work where and when they want. It’s all part of our ethos to love what you do and means our teams are highly motivated, working on projects they’ve chosen and consistently delivering their best work.
Five Hoxbies share their experience of being part of the project team for Unilever’s highly creative and successful home cleaning website, Cleanipedia, and discuss the personal and professional benefits of flexible working within Hoxby’s unique freelance community.
Working remotely as part of one global team
Before we meet the team, let’s talk numbers. Since starting in March 2019, Hoxby’s 100-strong Cleanipedia project team has created almost 2,000 new articles for 15 markets, in nearly as many languages. Pretty impressive. What’s also unusual is that for each country, we created authentic and / or optimised articles and unique content rather than using translations. Personality-filled content with local tone and relevance was a crucial part of the brief. And we delivered.
David Roberts, the project’s Portugal-based editor-in-chief, found tracking down writers across so many locations pretty straightforward because of the existing Hoxby community. ‘We have an incredible team! Hoxbies have a certain view of their work, where they fit in the workplace, and where we should be trying to move the future of work. Having a common outlook makes it much easier to create a team that gels, and it allows us to be agile.’
Contributing our personality for work satisfaction
So how did the team fare on the work satisfaction front?
Olivia Merlen is a French freelance copywriter based in the UK. ‘I’ve found this an exciting project to work on, and it’s been fun to add our own personality, interests and humour to the articles. Environmental issues are important to me, and I was glad we could pitch topics on natural cleaning products and reducing plastic at home. It’s great to have that sort of freedom as a copywriter.’
‘I love working on Cleanipedia!’ declares Portugal-based Ana Guimaraes, who contributes processes, publishing and writing to the project. ‘The range of countries and cultures, time zones and languages make it a really interesting team, and I’m learning new things every day. Also, because it’s a well-structured project, it’s great for my workstyle.’
Structure is close to Alexandra Kapelos-Peters’ heart as the project’s structure manager. Based in Canada, she explains ‘This project is unique in my experience in that so much upfront effort went into thinking about the processes: how we work with the client, how the team communicates, managing training and documentation. This allowed the team more focused time for their work.’ The team manages to work across so many time zones by keeping an accessible record of availability, and using Slack and Trello for communications, so no one’s excluded.
A solid structure also makes it easier to be reactive and relevant, and the team were able to focus on hand hygiene and health in February /March 2020, when the scale of Covid-19 disease was becoming internationally apparent.
Achieving our workstyle goals through working freelance
So how has working on Cleanipedia – and with Hoxby in general – helped these freelancers achieve their workstyle goals?
‘I always say that Hoxby saved my life!’ jokes Ana Guimaraes. ‘It was tough finding projects to work on that would fit around my studies and classes when I was a master’s student. Now, I have an 8-month-old baby, and the Cleanipedia project suits me well because it allows me to work to my own schedule.’
David Roberts agrees: ‘Remote working makes a huge difference as I’m able to give my kids the attention they need. It’s not about making allowances; the ethos is that everyone has the right to work when they want for whatever reason, as long as you fulfil your responsibilities.’
The “whatever reason” part is vital, as it’ll be different for everyone. For UK-based SEO freelance specialist Georgia Gallone, it was negative experiences of the office environment that prompted a move to freelance. ‘I like working from home, being able to choose whether to participate in social stuff and having the flexibility to work when it’s best for me. I also love that we use tools like Slack and Trello instead of emails and that all our work is online. It’s very efficient.’
Pushing our boundaries to find opportunities
The five team members had differing amounts of freelance experience before joining the Cleanipedia project. For some, it was their first Hoxby assignment, while others were more seasoned community members. Between them, they’ve reaped a range of professional benefits from being a Hoxby.
Valuing skills and experience: Ana Guimaraes gained finance skills working as an accountant in her own architecture company for ten years. She uses these skills within Hoxby’s core finance team, alongside her other projects. ‘I appreciated that Hoxby seems to welcome a range of experience, expertise and values, rather than solely focusing on formal qualifications,’ she explains.
Pushing boundaries: Another seasoned Hoxby, Georgia Gallone, appreciates the professional exposure and opportunities Cleanipedia and Hoxby have given her. ‘I’ve had a chance to stretch myself. Previously I’d only worked with English language SEO. But last year alone on Cleanipedia I had exposure to markets in Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey and Thailand!’
Finding opportunities: Georgia has also discovered lots of great opportunities and been recommended for other projects through Hoxby. As has Alexandra Kapelos-Peters, who has connected with other freelancers through Hoxby to form teams for her own company projects.
Experiencing a supportive community – the Hoxby difference
Working within our freelance community has proved a hugely positive experience for all, especially for those with knowledge of agencies or other freelance platforms.
Olivia Merlen has seen both sides of the fence, having previously freelanced and managed projects with freelancers in an agency. ‘I’d say there’s a lot more empowerment of the freelancer and you feel more valued at Hoxby. Communication is encouraged here, and it made everything easier during the Cleanipedia project. On a more personal note, being part of a community and having that support helped me transition into freelance life.’
‘I like being part of the community – feeling part of something bigger while also being freelance,’ says David Roberts. ‘You get out of the community according to the effort you put in.’
Several of the team tried other platforms before joining Hoxby but without much joy, partly because they were unwilling to undercut others and devalue their skills by offering meagre rates.
‘I learned from experience that many platforms are set up for the business and not the freelancer. They often take a large percentage of your fees without offering anything for it, like support. You have to be selective,’ found Alexandra Kapelos-Peters, who values the community vibe at Hoxby. I’ve really warmed to the people I’ve worked with. The screening process means that there’s much more collaboration and sharing than the competition, with people referring others for projects.’
Sally Powell is a content marketer, copywriter and project manager, and she is part of the Hoxby community.