In a climate where the tech and digital skills gap means exceptional candidates are hard to come by, where there is increased demand for exciting company culture and a good work-life balance, employers must step up to the mark.

Luckily for people based in the South West, there is a multitude of dynamic tech and digital organisations to choose from – namely the 2021 nominees for The SPARKies Best Place to Work award.

To showcase these fantastic companies during Talent Month at TechSPARK, we teamed up with category sponsors Interaction, the strategic workplace design and build experts, to chat with the shortlisted about their take on nourishing a healthy company culture.

Today we are chatting with Helastel, the leading software development company that creates smart software to take your business to the next level using cutting-edge technology.

How would you summarise your workplace culture?

Our three core values are Positivity, Quality and Integrity. But if we were to summarise Helastel’s culture, it would be ‘people-first’. 

Our people are what make Helastel a success, so our collective wellbeing is naturally a top priority. We have grown an amazing, diverse team of incredibly talented and innovative people, and we make efforts to ensure they feel valued, cared for and that they can achieve their full potential. 

Helastel offers an environment where everybody feels empowered to collaborate and share their ideas. That’s key to innovation. In an environment where everybody feels that they have an equal voice, confidence flourishes, and brilliant things happen.

In a world where you can leave a job on a Friday, get a laptop sent out over the weekend and start a new remote role on Monday doing roughly the same work, how important actually is culture?

Extremely! Workplace culture has never been more important exactly because we can now leave a company on Friday, and start a new remote role on Monday. 

Built on shared beliefs and values, a strong culture acts as the social ‘glue’ between everybody in an organisation. It can ensure that people feel connected to each other and their work, regardless of where they are working – office, home, or elsewhere. 

Great culture is about making everybody feel that they are ‘on the same page’ and working together towards a common goal. This is vital for keeping everybody excited, motivated, collaborative, and happy in their roles, particularly in remote or hybrid working environments.

How do you know when you have a strong/good culture?

If people feel rewarded by their work and are given the opportunity to achieve their goals, you’ll find they stick around. Good retention is a sign you have a strong culture. 

Another sign of a winning dynamic is when employees want to celebrate wins together or just hang out with each other – affinity is a byproduct of a great culture. Finally, honesty, openness and transparency… These are values that trickle down, so another good sign is leadership that invites open dialogue with employees, engages with them at all levels, and is up front about things.

What’s the role of leadership in creating culture? To what extent is it their responsibility and to what extent does it belong to the people in the organisation?

Leadership has a huge impact on company culture. Leaders cultivate it through influence and have the ability to instil confidence and empower employees to achieve a company’s goals. 

Leadership also has the final call on recruitment strategies, ensuring that culture is a mutual fit for new recruits. 

Great company culture leads to happier staff and better productivity – good leaders will make sure to keep it alive.

As a result of the ‘new normal’ our working practices have changed. What do you see as the impacts of hybrid and flexible working being on company culture?

Undoubtedly remote and hybrid working approaches bring challenges. As much as we’d like to think it, bringing a team together on a video call is never quite the same as being together in the same room. At the same time, companies can play to the benefits that flexible working brings. For one, those moments where everyone is together are rarer, and therefore more meaningful, memorable and emphatic when they do take place – which companies can take advantage of. 

Meanwhile, trusting employees to work in a way that best suits their work-life balance also leads to a happier team of people who have better control over their personal lives.

How do you make your company values come alive, rather than just the names of your meeting rooms?


Helastel seeks to support and empower its people as individuals, not just workers. 

As well as offering flexible working to help employees sync their work-life balance and opportunities for training and development available to team members, we have initiatives in place to support our people outside of work. This includes Maternity and Paternity policies that go beyond statutory requirements and an Employee Assistance Programme, providing 24/7 phone access to nurses, pharmacists, midwives and a Life Management Team. Employees can access up to five face-to-face counselling sessions.

When it comes to team socials, get-togethers, or just taking our minds off of work for a while, we understand that ‘drinks at the pub’ aren’t always the most inclusive option. Whether it’s a paper aeroplane competition, dog walks on the beach, or sunflower growing, Helastel aims to host regular and diverse events to suit everyone. 


As a creator of bespoke software solutions, quality underpins everything we do. We achieve high standards through careful talent acquisition, ensuring we attract the best and brightest in their field. However, the real magic happens when all these skill sets, personalities and backgrounds come together and collaborate.

New candidates often state our diversity of projects and innovative solutions as a key draw to Helastel. Within 12 months, team members could engage with projects from IoT-enabled beer pumps, data warehousing solutions for the RNLI, award-winning health tech startups and fraud prevention systems. This year, Helastel even developed its own no code software development platform, Intelastel. There are no vanilla projects up for grabs, and we’re in the process of onboarding a load of exciting new customers!


We believe everybody should have a clear and honest understanding of the direction of the business, throughout both the good and rocky times. 

Helastel’s board and senior management team host monthly and quarterly ‘wraps’, keeping employees in the loop on key decisions and inviting their input to help guide them. The team is encouraged to put forward anonymous questions ahead of these conversations, providing the opportunity to shed light on concerns that might otherwise be overlooked. More regularly, weekly KPI updates on email cover key updates from across every department. 

What are the key considerations when trying to build a culture digitally?

  • Embrace transparency. Share updates from management meetings. Break down silos (does Marketing know what IT is doing?).
  • Encourage employees to keep cameras on during video calls, to help establish more of a personal connection on meetings.
  • Encourage collaboration. Flexible working doesn’t mean your teams aren’t working together, but you can encourage them by giving them the tools to do so, such as innovative collaboration software. 
  • Let people be themselves – provide a channel for everyone to interact freely, with impunity (within reason, of course!). Observe each and everybody’s strengths often in front of others.

What do companies (or what have you) got wrong about workplace culture?

The most common mistake with workplace culture is preaching it, but not living up to it. It doesn’t help to force it either.

What’s the one thing you’d advise other organisations to think really hard about when considering their culture?

It’s imperative organisations agree values and then break them down into behaviours – what’s expected from every day – so everyone is clear. 

Before we settled on Helastel’s values, we invited everybody to contribute their thoughts and ideas, before finally distilling them down to Positivity, Quality and Integrity. Because these values were developed organically from our employees, we don’t continually have to work towards them or push them.

It’s important companies cater to all tastes with a variety of team building events. If all your socials are drinks and a night out, you’re omitting a huge chunk of the team. Mix it up with craft events, walks, lunches, secret Santas, sports days and office competitions to give everyone a chance to get involved with social events.