We are thrilled to announce that The Difference Collective has today been named as a finalist in the Innovation category of the Working Families’ Best Practice Awards. Employers large and small from many sectors compete annually to reach the shortlist for the unique business awards for flexible, agile organisations and we are proud to be finalists alongside leading brands Barclays and Lewis Silkin.

#WorkingDifferently is the way forward

The Working Families’ Best Practice Awards showcase and celebrate UK employers who are offering flexibility for all their people and going the extra mile in their support for parents and carers, an absolute celebration of our mantra #WorkDifferently.

These awards are particularly important to us as the Difference,  the first-ever purpose-built, virtual communications Collective for the health sector, is challenging the status quo and flying the flag for a smarter way of working by connecting talented, senior-level freelance professionals and healthcare clients on a virtual platform designed specifically with flexible working in mind.

#WorkingDifferently is more enjoyable AND more effective

The Collective advocates professional choice and freedom, and by engaging with cutting-edge digital technology, we have demonstrated that #WorkingDifferently is not only more enjoyable, it is also more effective. The Collective model means that freelancers can access the benefits of the traditional agency infrastructure while working flexibly and collaboratively on projects they feel genuinely passionate about, in ways that fit their lifestyle and aspirations, regardless of geographical location. It offers a pipeline of interesting work that they’re directly qualified to do, at their own day rate while also mitigating some of the most common freelancer concerns, including skills atrophy and daily isolation. It’s all the good stuff from the life and culture of a terrific agency without the ties and constraints.

Of course, it isn’t just our freelance Collective members who benefit. Our clients receive a more focused, agile, faster and economical way of doing things. They get their very own purpose-built ‘dream team’ – dedicated, hard-working, senior communications people with proven sector-specific skills and a track record of results – who can work together seamlessly and flex according to their needs.

While it may seem radical to strip away the physical structures and onerous processes intrinsically linked to agency life, what it actually does is free talent and clients to connect and engage with one another at a much more meaningful and senior level. Bricks and mortar don’t bind people together but rather shared knowledge, passions, beliefs and values.

Angie Wiles, The Difference Founder said: “We are proud to be leading the way as an innovative force for change within an industry renowned for its rigid and often anti-social working hours and have been bowled over by the response so far from members and clients alike. It demonstrates that the desire for change is real, #WorkingDifferently is the way forward and this is only the beginning.”

We were motivated to set up The Difference by the droves of senior talent being lost to the industry due to inflexible working policies and rigid agency constraints. We saw men and women with decades of valuable experience and expertise who share an unwavering commitment to excellence but for a whole variety of reasons are unable or unwilling to sustain a life lived commuting to an office for long hours with zero flexibility. At the same time, we saw an industry undergoing significant change, with smaller budgets and re-structuring of in-house communications capabilities. We saw that clients needed access to senior counsel and support more than ever before, something which agencies with their traditional pyramid structures are struggling to provide. And so, The Difference Collective set out to invert the pyramid – wrapping our arms around the best in the industry and acting as a stamp of assurance or ‘talent kite-mark’ for clients.

Sarah Jackson OBE, Chief Executive of Working Families and Chair of the judging panel said: “Congratulations to The Difference Collective whose flexible, agile approach has earnt them a much-coveted place in the shortlist of this year’s Best Practice Awards. We had a record-breaking number of entries in 2018, but The Difference’s outstanding entry in the  ‘Innovation’ category caught the eye of the judging panel.

“Our research shows that for nearly three-quarters of parents, family is their number one priority.  With 11 million working parents in the UK making up more than a third of the workforce, it’s initiatives like these that will help them balance work and family life and progress in their careers.”

One year of making a Difference

Since launching in June 2017, over 50 independent consultants have joined the Collective with more applications pending and over 20 major healthcare clients are #WorkingDifferently with us. We are proud of these metrics but what has surprised and impressed us more than anything is the power of Collective working, the positive mind-set people bring to a project they have ‘chosen’ to work, the speed and agility of Collective creative thinking, and the quality of the results. Everyone playing to their strengths not only benefits Collective members but also our clients, who can access the breadth and depth of knowledge and skills they need all under one ‘virtual’ roof.

Lisa Harper, Collective Consultant sums up the value of working flexibly: “The assumption is that being part of an established agency gives you a sense of belonging, identity and purpose, but we can honestly say that Collective working expands your horizons, creates new and very different opportunities, allows you to meet amazing and inspirational people from all different sides of the industry and ultimately enhances your sense of belonging to a much bigger, like-minded family. Collective by name and collective by culture really is the new and different reality.”

NOTES

About Working Families

Working Families is the UK’s work life organisation.  The charity supports and gives a voice to working parents and carers, whilst also helping employers create workplaces which encourage work life balance for everyone. www.workingfamilies.org.uk

Twitter @workingfamuk

The Working Families Best Practice Awards 2018

The winners of the Working Families’ Best Practice Awards will be announced at London’s Vintners’ Hall on 20th June 2018.

The Difference Collective Benefits

In addition to premium work opportunities, our 50+ Collective Members who choose to #WorkDifferently also benefit from:

  • Industry-wide training
  • Industry trends and insights
  • A collective forum for idea generation and sharing
  • Operational, HR, finance, IT, marketing and legal support
  • Collective social events
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