Interview: Agency vs in-house with Luis Klefsjo

An interview with Luis Klefsjo, Delivery Manager at YLD, about working in agency vs in-house in the Creative industry.

In this ‘agency vs in-house’ interview series led by Salt Senior Consultant for Creative, Holley Potts, we speak to customers from all different sectors within the world of digital to answer the age-old question – agency or in-house? This series is designed to give you a snapshot of creative career journeys and insights into what are currently happening in their businesses. Over to Holley…  

My next guest is Luis Klefsjo, Delivery Manager at YLD, where he focuses on digital product design and UX research. Here he gives a wonderful take on both sides of the story…  

Holley- Wonderful you could be a part of this Luis! There has been a lot of buzz over in-house so it would be great to hear your views coming from agency side. So, coming from your perspective, what makes a consultancy agency so great?   

Luis – We’re a software engineering and design consultancy consisting of engineers, designers and researchers, working with UX and product development. I was reluctant at first to go to an agency as I wondered whether I would be able to “belong to something”, like having a company identity, but for me it has been a great experience – our company culture really makes us all feel that we do belong to one entity, to one company.

One of the real benefits working like I do, is that you get to work with the different clients here; it almost feels like you are starting a new job when you get a new assignment and you get to know that team and that industry, which can be really exciting. It’s very powerful to help build something from scratch and create something together and you learn so much about that particular industry. I have been with some clients for two months and others, up to a year. Sometimes you even manage to progress within the client organisation, which is awesome.   

The main difference is that it feels like there is less jeopardy in your job security – when a contract is ending, you are swiftly moved onto the next one – to a new exciting engagement.  

Holley - That must be so insightful working in so many different industries with your clients, the opportunity for growth and widening your horizons for industries must be huge. Do you find that it’s the best of both worlds working at an agency as you work so closely with the clients too?   

Luis - The beautiful thing about working in agency for me, is that you work in the space between an agency and a client – you get the best of both worlds! And yes, whilst most of the time you are working with great clients there will be times where one client might not be as good as the last one, or as fun as you thought it would be, but that will only be temporary until the project is finished and then you move on – you never feel like you are stuck.

I once worked on a stem cell project where I even got a certificate saying that I had some very basic knowledge of working in stem cell research, as we had to take a short introductory course on the topic – I would probably never have chosen that industry myself, but it was an amazing experience that I got to work in that area, and in general, had I not been in this position, I never would have worked with all the clients that I have.  

Holley– Incredible! Not your everyday project! How have you managed to keep projects going and the creativity up since not being able to meet in person as often with your clients or team?    

Luis - Currently I head up two different projects. One is very technical, and they are very used to using more online based tools and ways of working, but the other is very creative. We use Miro Board and equip everyone on our team with the hardware they need, like an iPad or a drawing pad. Creativity was initially a concern but the thing with creativity is that it’s about finding solutions; it’s about brainstorming together to overcome challenges, which is why Miro has been fantastic for our team.

Holley  Exactly, like you said it’s all about finding solutions. Being the optimist that I am, I always think positives arise out of negatives, such as remote working with the likes of video calls, there is going to be lots of innovation around this and finding new solutions to improve it, so have you found there has been a positive out of this whole situation from 2020? Have you found this new digital way of connecting with clients and colleagues a positive or negative?   

Luis - Both actually; one great thing, which is also a hindrance is not being able to have impromptu conversations together in person – sometimes I really miss those, but at the same time, they could be very time consuming. Whereas now you get zoom fatigue, so you need to be efficient with your time. For me, I don’t think productivity has suffered – if anything it has gone up.   

The explorative parts of Design work for us were normally always done together as a team, but when it comes to production work, you really do require silence and concentration. From a productivity side, what we have paid for with less physical creative explorative sessions, we have gained back in productivity and faster outputs.  

Holley– Exactly, I feel there will be a lot of transformation over the next few years around video calls, especially as the buzz word this year is remote working – how have you adapted to this?   

Luis - It’s interesting as a lot of industries seem to have been afraid to work remotely before, and now companies have realised it is completely possible to do it. One area I have found to have been challenged is Leadership / Management. I think it can be a challenge for middle management to not fall into a trap of “micromanaging”. It’s all about finding out how to make the shift to remote management work when you can’t see your team and is something for that level to really work on; measuring outcomes rather than time spent, if that makes sense.  

As we have always worked remotely to some extent – we support a lot of clients all over the world – we have found that it’s about educating the people you work with on how you work remotely in a successful way and why it can be so beneficial.  

Holley– Indeed, location shouldn’t hinder being able to work with brilliant talent, it is about working smart not long, do you agree?  

Luis - Exactly, we hire people because we trust they will do a good job and that they are right for the role, it’s not about working to the clock, as long as the outcomes are achieved. If you can produce the same amount of outstanding work in less than 8 hours, then great for you!   

A refreshing exploration of looking at both sides of the party, and how agency can very much encompass client-side ways of working too, many thanks for that Luis!   

Stay tuned for more interviews, coming your way. If you would like to find out more about the series or find out how we can help you with your hiring, get in touch with Holley viahpotts@welovesalt.com.  

Read more of our agency vs in-house interviews here. 

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