United Kingdom

Aon client ‘highly commended’ for pioneering flexible working scheme

June 2015


Media agency MEC have been highly commended at the Employee Benefits Awards for their pioneering flexible working scheme, Smarter Working.

The scheme, first piloted in May last year, has been so successful that it has become an integral part of their ‘Thrive’ culture and is thought to be the first of its kind to operate successfully within a UK business.

With a clear focus on trust and empowerment, Smarter Working takes agile, remote working where no business has been brave enough to go before. Employees are given the freedom to work where and when they feel at their most productive and creative best, whether that’s 1 or 5 times a week.

With complete choice of workspace, whether at Somerset House, Tate Modern, home, at a creative agency, client space or a local coffee shop, employees are able to work in an environment of their choice, with teams or alone. The number one rule is to stay connected.

The concept behind the scheme is simple: to create a flexible and creative environment to help nurture a happy and engaged workforce, resulting in a step change in the way employees work and behave. MEC viewed this as Stage 1 of 2 in a cultural shift towards creating a more agile workforce in preparation for their move of premises to Sea Containers House early 2016.

“MEC have been placed in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For, for five consecutive years. Although we consistently scored above average in all eight categories including ‘leadership’, ‘personal growth’ and ‘giving something back’, our scores also highlighted the need to improve our focus around ‘wellbeing’ and ‘fair deal’,” explained Clare Alger, Director of People & Culture at MEC.

For Alger, the new scheme was a significant business commitment as part of their ongoing journey to be the best agency to work for; one of their key business objectives. With an average employee age of 31, the new scheme needed to increase engagement with non-pay rewards by being as innovative and brave as possible. MEC’s Smarter Working initiative ran alongside its leading edge benefits package called My Perks which focuses on all areas of Wellbeing including mental, physical and financial.

Specifically, Smarter Working:

  • Completely scraps accrued hours rules, instead empowering everyone to take back time as they saw fit after busy periods
  • Motivates employees, rewarding trust and respect
  • Supports personal growth and encourages everyone to thrive
  • Improves employee opinion in the Sunday Times Fair deal/Wellbeing categories
  • Provides all remote working equipment and collaboration tools
  • Offers health and safety advice and training (workplace risk assessment, seating posture etc.)
  • Experiments with different ways of working
  • Encourages employees to share pictures of where they’ve been working using social media eg My Perks Facebook page to encourage others to work smartly

It worked. Of the 561 MEC employees:

  • 85 per cent work away from the office every week
  • 90 per cent agree the scheme improves energy, creativity, performance
  • 90 per cent agree it improves work-life balance
  • 92 employees truly thrived and were promoted since Smarter Working’s implementation

In addition, MEC UK witnessed their best ever year for business growth and client wins. Staff survey scores in all areas improved and turnover fell to 19 per cent versus an industry average of 30 per cent.

“Happier and engaged employees serve happier clients,” Alger added. “Smarter Working has motivated far beyond the norm and has been embraced by everyone to thrive personally and professionally. They’re working smarter and more creatively and work-life balance has radically improved.”

Martha How, Reward Partner at Aon Employee Benefits said: “In my 35 years of working in this industry, HR practice at MEC is the best I’ve ever seen.”



Aon UK Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 00210725. Registered Office: The Aon Centre, The Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall Street, London EC3V 4AN.