Reading Room Reviews | Glassdoor

Reading Room Reviews

Updated September 20, 2018
69 reviews

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2.3
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Reading Room CEO Margaret Manning
Margaret Manning
48 Ratings

69 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "The people, work life balance, the clients" (in 6 reviews)

  • "Bar the senior management (read: all white middle-class men) there were a lot of nice, genuine and talented people" (in 8 reviews)

Cons
  • "This will be directed at the project manager and despite being raised many times, senior management will ignore and avoid the issue" (in 9 reviews)

  • "The quality of projects have been sub-standard at best, no-one has the time, drive or energy" (in 6 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Good people but no career progression"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Reading Room full-time

    Pros

    Nice people, cool client, relax

    Cons

    no career progression, no pay review


  2. "Horrendous company - avoid at all costs"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Reading Room full-time

    Pros

    The people (apart from senior management)
    Flexi-time

    Cons

    It's a sinking ship - 20 odd redundancies were made in June 2018
    All staff members are over worked and under paid
    Clients are horrendous unhappy and not prioritised correctly
    It's actually an embarrassing company to work for when you find out how they treat staff and clients

    Advice to Management

    It's a sinking ship, admit that and stop thinking it's the best agency to work for

  3. "Need to support management team"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    The people, work life balance, the clients

    Cons

    Idox should never have bought a digital agency, they don’t understand digital and bought in wrong transition team who mismanaged over last couple of years. The new MD needs to be given a chance but he too needs support from Idox.

    Advice to Management

    Don’t loose momentum keep your focus allow wider team in to support


  4. "A company in ruins"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Reading Room full-time

    Pros

    Bar the senior management (read: all white middle-class men) there were a lot of nice, genuine and talented people.

    Cons

    - Career progression means taking on extra work so they don't have to hire more people, not getting paid to do it and not even having any training!

    - The quality of projects have been sub-standard at best, no-one has the time, drive or energy. This isn't down to the fault of the team or individuals capabilities, it is down to the company

    - About 3-6 months into a project, clients will develop negative attitudes and opinions of the company. This will be directed at the project manager and despite being raised many times, senior management will ignore and avoid the issue

    - Everyone single person is overworked and having just gone through redundancies less people will be doing the same amount of work as before

    - Atrocious pay with no chance of a salary increase

    - It's not a happy environment or a nice place to work. The office is bleak and depressing and the morale is at an all time low

    - It's an utter joke to call it an agency, a more accurate description would be Idox's masterpiece of destruction

    - Management constantly withhold information, yet claim to be 'open' with communications - "I'm telling you as much as I know"

    Advice to Management

    Give up the act and admit it's a sinking ship.


  5. "A bad place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Very few, there were some nice people.

    Cons

    No time to write them all down.

    Advice to Management

    Close up shop.


  6. "Junior to intermediate developer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Developer in London, England (UK)
    Current Employee - Developer in London, England (UK)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Reading Room full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Increasing emphasis on code quality. Good culture (but that can change with turnover). Concern for website accessibility.

    Cons

    Short project timelines leave little room for research and experimentation. Technical decisions were usually non-risky, unambitious. Low pay. Support for career progression was intermittent (so you need too be self-motivated for that).

    Advice to Management

    More technical training and research.


  7. "Probably best to avoid"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Reading Room full-time

    Pros

    Prior to Idox takeover had a diverse global management team, particularly in terms of gender balance.

    Everyone was very friendly and enjoyed a night out together. Fun place.

    A few very talented people worked there.

    They tried to hire 'out of the box' people. Not sure it always worked, but they definitely gave people opportunities they wouldn't have got anywhere else.

    It you were smart, worked hard and got on with senior management, you could carve out your own role.

    Cons

    The company never had any interest in doing great work, just OK work at overly-expensive rates.

    A 'numbers at the expense of everything else' approach.

    Post takeover, the management team quickly became very white and very male. Other people who were clearly better qualified but not British and male were made redundant.

    In fairness, the rest of the company was no more or less diverse than any other agency I've worked at (which is to say, not very but trying harder).

    Too many mediocre people across the board. Designers, developers and project managers who simply weren't good enough to be at an agency stayed for too long, complained too much and had no awareness at all that their own lack of ability was part of the problem.

    Advice to Management

    Concentrate on the quality of the work you're releasing.

    Improve your recruitment processes to hire better people.

    Update your processes.

    Have a clearer idea of what Reading Room is and the type of work you want to do.

  8. Helpful (3)

    "Weak management, no processes, blame culture"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Reading Room full-time

    Pros

    - Equipment seems basic, but nicer than previously encountered.
    - Offices seem bland, but nice.
    - Majority are talented and lovely to work with.
    - Those working with you often go above and beyond to help.

    Cons

    - No process.
    - Unbelieveable staff turnover
    - Experienced staff leaving in frustration
    - Very weak management at the highest levels
    - Complaints are not addressed
    - Placed into impossible situations
    - Offices are either deathly silent, or ‘forced banter’
    - Don’t understand the tools they are using
    - ‘Not my problem’ attitude to solving problems.
    - Unwillingness to delegate
    - Blame culture.
    - No training
    - Both agencies yet to merge properly (Reading Room and Ripple Effect)

    Advice to Management

    Review who is in your management team.

    Anonymous survey / listening to staff outside of management would reveal major problems.

    Management team hiding complaints or ignoring them resolves nothing.

    Listen to people telling you about issues, rather than trying to force them out.

    Instill any sort of process. No one knows what they are doing.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "You can do good work if you don't mind fighting for it"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Reading Room full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    - some of the people are fantastic, talented and lovely
    - depending on your team, the work life balance can be very good
    - individuals are never singled out for blame by the client (teams protect their own quite well)
    - lots of responsibility if you want it (but don't expect title or pay or any kind of training or support)
    - some interesting work and nice clients (if you're lucky)
    - if you're lucky enough to have a team of talented and ambitious people, the work can be consultative and ambitious (though you will have to fight every step of the way to make it so)

    Cons

    - management only care about "the number"--an always overly ambitious target not based in reality, that stresses teams, distracts from the ability to do good work, results in poor and rushed work, and has zero benefit to anyone but the leadership in the end.
    - "bonus" is hilarious.
    - chronically underpaid vs the market, especially in London
    - no training or support
    - complete lack of diversity within management and senior leadership and an inability to see how poor this is
    - No career development
    - projects are often scoped poorly by non specialists at the proposal stage, leading to mismanaged expectations later on
    - revolving door of people. For a while (about 18 months ago) things were going in the right direction, but an increasingly corporate outlook prioritised numbers over people and work leading to a mass exodus that has only got worse over time
    - constant downsizing of northern offices (plus town hall meetings about "the number") has led to very low morale
    - total aversion to interesting work, pushing skills or modernising processes
    - a sausage factory of outdated work for clients with little budget and high expectations circa 1998
    - soulless office that looks like a call centre. Idox group meetings seem to take priority over any of the staff using the meeting rooms
    - WiFi that cuts out when it rains. Seriously?!
    - under resourced

    Advice to Management

    - develop your best people and take care of them
    - figure out what Reading Room is and what it stands for
    - modernise processes and listen to those that are actually doing the work
    - diversify the leadership team
    - allow people to improve the standard of work and stop stressing them about "the number"
    - trust your people.


  10. Helpful (2)

    "Are you a mediocre 25 - 55 year-old English lad? Then this company is for you!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England (UK)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Reading Room full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Shiny new office

    - Depending on your role, can be a good life balance. Don't usually have to stay very late.

    - Apart from really incompetent management, everyone else is really nice. You can meet some very genuine, talented people, who quite frankly, should leave for better jobs elsewhere as Reading Room doesn't really deserve them!

    Cons

    Reading Room is ultimately racist and sexist, and quite frankly, an incompetent company. Let me explain.

    A company does not need to shout insults at you as soon as you walk in the door at 9AM to be racist or sexist. It simply does not need to hire or promote hardly any women and/or people of colour/foreigners, or simply just men who don't fit in with the mediocre, laddish culture. If you are a non-lad, expect to be interrupted constantly in meetings, and have your work and ideas appropriated by your lad colleagues. You may think I am being bitter, sensitive or overreacting(!), but I have talked to many people in the business, and they all agree with me, so this is definitely a company-wide problem.

    When I first arrived, I thought that it was a lot more diverse with the old CEO in charge (although she doesn't seem that great - head over to Adelphi Digital on Glassdoor for more awful reviews!). However, as none of the women and/or people of colour got promoted, many of them left within the last couple of years. If we were living in any other part of the country, I probably wouldn't notice how non-diverse it is, but London is one of the most diverse places in the world, and it is disappointing that this isn't reflected in Reading Room's hiring or promotional practices.

    Senior and mid-weight management is essentially a group of 25 - 55-year-old white English men who go to the pub, make sexist jokes that we all have to pretend to laugh at and keep promoting each other with meaningless titles, and I assume, more pay. Occasionally, one of them will perk up about diversity or equalising pay, but this usually results in no action or little action. White men continue to get hired and promoted constantly, despite there being other candidates and staff who are far more competent. Some of them are so incompetent, I could cry simultaneously with laughter and frustration. And some of them barely do any work, instead, they are doing 'side projects' and making excuses for not getting work done quickly enough.

    Despite the MD promising to equalise pay (by saying this, that means he's aware there's a salary disparity problem), some people got a few quid extra (which doesn't even amount to 10% of anyone's salary), and that's about it. I don't see how giving the general populous a few bob is going to lead to gender equality.

    Don't even think about leaving this stinky teenage boys' bedroom. Some people on long notice periods have a horrible time trying to leave to go to their next employer. It's simply inhumane to toy with people like this. London is tough, with increasingly sky-high rent and house prices, and people simply want to aspire to better wages to put roofs over their heads. It is unfair for the company to keep graduates, juniors and mid-weights on 3 month notice periods, and never moving their careers forward. Some of the new IDOX contracts (IDOX plc bought Reading Room from the previous owner) have more reasonable 1 month notice periods, but those with draconian old 3 month notice periods from old management are still expected to serve at least half of it.

    However, if it is the other way round and they want to get rid of you quickly with little notice, that is possible for them to do so. Do not ever think your job is safe from cuts even if you reach the top, especially if you are a non-lad. IDOX appear to be completely incompetent and seem to be cutting jobs left, right and centre, with the Manchester office completely gone (making many people redundant over Christmas, a really horrible time), and the Liverpool office (previously known as Ripple Effect) continuing to fall apart as we speak.

    IDOX is almost as stingy as the old management. They did improve hardware for staff, where previously old management gave out horrible computers, and are much better at re-paying staff their expenses, but they took away free beer hour on Fridays (this is a staple of London's agency scene). Now they have moved to a worst office than the one they had previously, and use it to cram other IDOX staff meetings in, instead of prioritising Reading Room staff, and the wi-fi is always down when it rains. How can a DIGITAL agency have Internet that doesn't work properly!? It's horribly embarrassing to tell clients that you can't email them because it's raining!

    Don't even get me started on the work. Some of the work produced at Reading Room is some of the worst work I have ever seen come out of an agency. Half of it doesn't work when it goes live. With everyone sticking their oar into your project, it can sometimes feel like your project is a hodgepodge of, well, other people's turds. You'll be finishing a project, and others will come up to you and essentially destroy it, meaning you'll pretty much have to start all over again. Most of the clients I worked with are also equally incompetent, boring, narrow-minded in their thinking, and unbelievably stubborn in getting what they want, despite not paying enough for all the extra work they ask for.

    The only good thing is that perhaps you can negotiate a better-than-average salary at Reading Room, but this must be done at the BEGINNING before signing on. This is because they have a hiring problem. It is either they are too slow to hire anyone, or no one wants to join because of all the terrible reviews on Glassdoor. IDOX is even slower than the previous CEO to increase salaries, so don't think you will have a chance of getting any decent pay rises after you start. Stay for a maximum of 18 months to 2 years, and leave, unless you are being promoted beyond your wildest dreams (if you're hoping for that, make sure you're white, English, and have fully paid-up membership of lads club!). Otherwise, if you get a better offer elsewhere at a nicer agency, avoid Reading Room!

    If you still don't believe me after reading the above, at least 17 people left in December within less than 2.5 weeks. Some clients also seem to be unenthusiastic and want to switch agencies too. So let that be a lesson.

    PS/ Positive reviews below are mostly fakes, with senior management asking their underlings to write them, everyone knows it.

    Advice to Management

    - Promote more competent women/people of colour/men who aren't 'lads'. It might lead to better, more creative and more well-rounded work. Studies show that having a diverse workforce can benefit the profits of your company, so maybe that's a big enough incentive.

    - Get rid of some of your senior and midweight management. The louder they shout, the more incompetent they are, there's your clue.

    - Give people proper pay rises and equal salaries. Some people are literally on the verge of not being able to pay their rent, it's disgusting.

    - Get a better mix of clients. Stop going after just money-churning clients like government clients. People are motivated by an exciting mix of work

    - Your tea sucks. Please stop buying Tetley wholesale bags, stop being stingy, and get some proper tea. Also get bigger plates and bowls - is your crockery designed for 5 year-old children or adults!


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