How an E-Learning Company decreased operating costs by empowering staff to bring their whole selves to work.

Pop Education, an e-learning design company, has experienced significant growth since its launch in 2016. Staff increased almost seven-fold, and there’s a regular roster of six contractors.  The initial team had previously worked together and established good relationships — processes and workflows developed organically, but as new members joined, the informal approach was no longer fit-for-purpose.


Pop Education’s management team recognised that a lack of onboarding was contributing to challenges in communication, time management, relationships (fear, trust), and sense of belonging.

These issues, faced by the dispersed, remote workforce comprising many individuals with disabilities and acute health needs, raised concerns for staff wellbeing.

“One of the challenges we had was communication,” says Pop Education co-founder and Managing Director Sarah Phillips, “People weren’t telling us where they were at with things, and whether [tasks] were delayed. We were also worried about people’s welfare because of the responsive nature of the work we do, which meant that some people would work extra hours. And we didn’t know how to gauge burnout — I know I burn out.”

Sarah and Donna Petrusma, Pop Education’s Business Development and Operations Manager, had previously worked with Clare Fountain, Director of Sorted. They were confident that Clare was the right facilitator to guide the team through the challenges.

“We are a bunch of educators ourselves, and we’re a pretty critical audience when it comes to assessing the quality and value of a facilitator,” says Donna, “We knew Clare could design a provocation to get people to drill down and think beyond the surface. And she could make it meaningful for the individual.”

Furthermore, Clare’s approach aligned with Pop Education’s ‘QUIRKIE’ values that focus on Quality, Uniqueness, Innovation, Relationships, Knowledge, Imagination, and Energy. This presented an opportunity to communicate and embed these values.


Clare designed a Balance Workshop with a core message around self-care, focusing on:

  • managing time
  • juggling multiple hats — work, community, personal
  • delegating within a flat hierarchy
  • creating work rhythms to suit the flat hierarchy, remote working arrangements, and working styles of individuals.


The workshop was an anchoring point that gave the team a common language for future conversations and resulted in many positive changes, with team members:

  • feeling empowered to prioritise work
  • assuming greater accountability
  • engaging in open conversations.

Sarah noticed that the benefits to the business were a knock-on effect of changes at more personal levels, “Strategically, we did this for the business, but it was beautifully wrapped up as a personal thing. People acknowledged that personal aspect, about it being about them as whole people. Our goal was achieved as a consequence of [changes] that happened to individuals. It was so clever.”

For Sarah, a self-confessed workaholic, the workshop inspired her desire to halve her working week and reclaim the extra 35 hours spent at work for personal projects. This followed an exercise where individuals mapped their ideal week and compared it to their actual week. Post-workshop, Sarah has been delegating more, redefining roles, and reducing inefficiencies in processes such as duplication of communications and tasks.

“Having permission to say ‘no’, and feeling okay about [it] has been a game changer,” says Donna,  “There is space for people to not accept meeting invites or to ask for postponements to focus on priorities. This has tackled people-pleasing traits. The guilt is gone, and communication has opened with people offering to help others.”

Improvements in communication, trust and work prioritisation at Pop Education have led to greater transparency of challenges, opportunities and bottlenecks in project delivery. As a result, quantitative workshop outcomes include decreases in operating costs and project turn-around times.

Discuss how a Sorted workshop may help you foster the wellbeing of your employees and your business.