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Upper Hutt’s Strictly Savvy has set a workplace precedent for the Greater Wellington region. With its lush office views, flexible working arrangements, and a staff attraction/retention strategy centered on supporting its employees, Strictly Savvy has created an attractive work environment that successfully harnesses the talent of its people.
Until just a couple of years ago, Upper Hutt was best known as a destination for family outings to Staglands Wildlife Reserve, or the last petrol stop before winding over the hill to the sunny Wairarapa.
Speed forward to 2019 and the region has become a craft beer mecca thanks to Brewtown, a popular stop-off for cyclists on the scenic Hutt River and Remutaka Cycle Trails, and a quiet haven for innovative companies seeking to do their best work outside Wellington’s CBD.
Virtual business support company, Strictly Savvy, is one of just a handful of local businesses that has ridden this wave of change and flourished in equal measure.
At just seven years old, Strictly Savvy has grown from a small infant organisation led by founder Jo Jenson and one employee, to a steadily expanding team of 15 staff.
The team assists small businesses with everything from basic administration to bookkeeping, payroll, graphic design and photography. And they do all of this online from the comfort of their Upper Hutt office - a workspace that you wouldn’t expect to find in semi-rural New Zealand.
Jo and her business partner-come-husband Lance have put a concerted effort into creating a space where their staff love to work and can be successful in their jobs.
“We love greenery – the big windows with views over the hills are really important to us – along with lots of real plants and great lighting," Jo says.
“We make sure our staff have access to high-spec technology, a coffee machine, and all the mod cons they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. We make improvements a priority - we want our staff to want to be here."
From the outset, Jo made it her priority to build a company that develops predominantly local talent.
“We mostly hire locally to maintain flexibility for all our staff. They work here because they get good training and education. It’s a fun, relaxed, informal working environment, but one where everyone works hard,” she says.
Over the past seven years, the business has evolved largely due to changing client demands and by tapping into the individual, and sometimes unexpected, talents of its staff.
“We’ve expanded our services to include Savvy Studio, a creative space for photo/video shoots and content production, and Savvy Co-Working – the first space of its kind in Upper Hutt,” Jo says.
“We encourage our staff to do the work they love as much as possible and tap into their strengths - it’s great to see them use their talents. We also try to support them as much as we can when it comes to their own businesses, families and personal commitments. It’s all about the give and take."