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Where I WFH: Rose Allerston, Head of Sales & Marketing, Smoking Gun

Rose Allerston, Smoking Gun

Rose Allerston is responsible for leading sales and marketing at Smoking Gun, the Manchester PR agency founded in 2010.

Smoking Gun, which works with clients including Munchkin, Old J Spiced Rum, and Pennine Care NHS Trust Foundation, has now moved to a hybrid model of working from home and its office on Bridge Street in Manchester.

Allerston joined Smoking Gun in 2016 as a Senior Account Manager, and previously held roles at Mason Williams and Fido PR. She lives in the Derbyshire countryside

We took a look at her home-working setup.


Where in the house do you work?

At the beginning of the pandemic, we turned our spare bedroom into a study, so this is where I usually work, although I’m sometimes demoted to the kitchen when my husband also needs the space!

Paint a picture for us of the view from your window.

I live in a little town called New Mills in the Derbyshire countryside, so I’m lucky to look out onto hilly countryside. The only issue is in the afternoon when the sun hits and I have to completely close the blinds and feel like I’m in a hole!

We also have the chatter of children playing at break time from a nearby primary school, which is quite comforting.

If you have one, can you talk us through your home-working daily routine?

I’m up early to get ready before my one-year-old wakes at around 7am, then it’s a rush to get him to nursery so I’m sat down ready to work by 8am – or 9am on days I commute to Manchester.

I always like to ‘Eat That Frog’ (for anyone who has read the book!) and tackle my biggest challenge of the day first. So that might be speaking to businesses about how we can help them grow through strategic comms, or writing a piece of thought leadership to raise the agency’s profile or share best practice.

I always make sure I get outside at least once throughout the working day. There’s a lot of walking spots on my doorstep and to grab even half an hour in the fresh air makes me feel so much more focussed – and happy – when I’m back at my desk.

Which tools and technology do you rely on when working from home?

We use Slack which is like an informal chat hub – it keeps the agency chatter and quick fire thinking alive.

We also use Bonusly to reward each other’s achievements, which has become even more important now the team aren’t together every day. But there’s nothing like just picking up the phone to each other or to clients, so that and video calls are still the most valuable tools.

I’ve also been using LinkedIn more and more to reach business, marketing and communications leaders who are working from home.

What do you miss most about working from an office?

At Smoking Gun we’re still working from our city centre office, with some days from home too. I find it’s working perfectly for being really productive, while not becoming disconnected from each other.

On days I’m working at home I miss all the great food options at lunch time. My homemade sandwiches are just not the same.

What tips do you have for increasing productivity while working from home?

I’d recommend time blocking to focus on important tasks. We let others in our team know when we’re doing this so we get given some space to think and don’t feel like we have to constantly react to our inboxes.

Personally, I don’t work brilliantly with music in the background either and I really appreciate the total quiet at home to be super productive.

Will you look to work from home more in the future?

A combination of home and office working is here to stay and is good for productivity and people’s mental health too. In PR, what we do is very collaborative and you just can’t beat sitting side-by-side when a big story is going out and the media coverage starts coming in.

I also think for those just starting their careers, time with their colleagues to learn and get instant feedback is so important.

How do you think the workplace will change in the future?

The pandemic proved to so many people that home-working can be done, in most cases very effectively.

The future of city centres is one to watch. Less dependence on expensive office space is great, but also worrying for the general economy. I think there will be a lot more opportunity for collaboration with different ‘minds’ who may live all over the world. Core office teams will expand into networks of specialists which will mean everyone is learning and creating better work.

People will spend more time with their families, which the past two years has taught us is the most important thing.

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