dxw's Playbook

Who we are

dxw is an employee owned digital agency that works with the public and third sectors.

Since 2008, we’ve worked in partnership with our clients to improve people’s lives by designing, building, running, and improving digital public services. We support the public sector teams we work with to build their own digital capability and take an iterative user-centred approach to service design.

Being employee owned means dxw is managed in the best interests of our staff, now and in future. We have written our mission and values into our founding documents, so dxw is also run in the interests of the people we build services for.

The challenge facing the public sector today is a significant one. There’s more pressure than ever to deliver online services quickly and save money. It’s a huge job and, in addition to talented in-house teams, the sector needs expert suppliers who share their values and understand how to work with them.

We want people’s experience of public services to be positive and seamless. That means creating great services that are accessible to everyone. Our approach is to add value early and often, rapidly researching, testing, learning, and delivering on time. Wherever we can, we work in the open, sharing our code, and what we’ve learned.

Our aim is to help the public sector make the most of the opportunities digital offers to make services better for the people who depend on them. And, ultimately, to free up more resources for essential front line services like education, health and social care, housing, welfare, and policing.

Our values

We think that it’s very important to have a talented team if we’re going to succeed. But just as important as raw talent is our ability to work well together. These are the values that we aspire to, and help each other to achieve.


We are helpful, useful and expert. We give practical and pragmatic advice to each other, and to our clients.


We are positive, cheerful and supportive. Even in crisis, we stay optimistic. We assume good faith and offer constructive challenge.


We are reliable, consistent and committed. We make every effort to live up to each others’ expectations, and to exceed the expectations of our clients.


We are honest, trustworthy and straightforward. We give plain-spoken, frank, accurate feedback and advice, and we never mislead or obscure the issue at hand.


We are curious, diverse and creative. We help each other to learn and improve and we’re sensitive to each others’ needs. We love technology and finding new ways to solve problems.


We are determined, discerning and motivated. We believe in high standards, we enjoy doing things properly, and we’re loath to settle for less.

Our principles

These principles help us live up to our values, and guide our behaviour and decision making in all the things we do at dxw.

Start with people and their needs

At dxw we want to create public services that work well for everyone who depends on them.

We start by understanding the different people who will use and be affected by a service. Wherever possible we work with them to design and test the things they will use.

We actively consider the intended and unintended consequences of our work on people, communities and the planet.

Keep an agile mindset

At dxw, we think that agile is a mindset that’s accepting of change, curious about trying new approaches to make things better, and values careful planning in short chunks.

We think that the Agile Manifesto contains a lot of wisdom, but we don’t follow the industry of methodologies, training and certifications that has grown up around it. We think agile is something you learn to be, not something that you learn to do.

We recognise the importance of compliance and governance, so we build those activities into each step.

Work at a sustainable pace

At dxw, we work at a sustainable pace. We estimate work and schedule it conservatively, and set realistic expectations with clients about the pace of delivery.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t work hard. Being productive is a vital part of maintaining the trust that our clients give us, and it’s important not to let them down.

Balance openness and confidentiality

dxw believes it’s best to be open about what we’re doing. We encourage our clients to do the same, as does the service manual. We talk, blog and write about what we’re doing, and we are open about as much as we can.

At dxw, we release code, publish our contracts and things like this Playbook and talk with people about what we’re up to because we believe that we’ll ultimately have more opportunities to work, grow and improve than if we kept everything to ourselves.

However, there are some things that we must keep private.

  • Our clients trust us to host content that is not public, like upcoming announcements and discussions made as part of formulating new policy. This is not our information to be open about, and it’s very important to keep it confidential.
  • We also hold some personal data about and/or on behalf of our clients. We never share any of this data, including contact details. See also: data protection.
  • We are sometimes sent documents that are protectively marked, and we have a scheme of our own. Information in these documents is confidential.
  • Information about work that is currently being procured (whether we are bidding or not) and any other information that could damage the commercial interests of a client or supplier

Diversity and inclusion statement

At dxw, we value people and want them to feel free to be themselves.

We embrace each other’s differences, in gender, religion, beliefs, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, neurotype, nationality, and identity. We are diverse - like the people we build, design, and create for.

Amazing things happen when we collaborate together. We work in the open and believe everyone’s voices should be heard.

We recognise individual needs and aim to provide a work environment that is accessible, welcoming, and empowering for all. We want everyone to feel supported and included in our wider community.

Our values are more than just words on a page - it’s about constant action and holding ourselves to account.

We’re committed to being transparent with our diversity information and regularly assessing the impact of all our policies and practices.

Our approach is set out in our Inclusion, diversity and equal opportunities policy.

Thank you for being you - it makes us better.

Make everything we do accessible

At dxw we want to make sure that everyone can access the digital services we create, including our own websites, communications and colleague resources.

We follow the guidance in the GOV.UK Service manual to help us to meet government accessibility requirements.

And to create a consistent approach to digital accessibility, our Playbook has additional guidance for our different professions.

Reduce our impact on the environment

It is our responsibility that future communities can thrive. So we will lead by example, and demonstrate how to make choices that are both people and planet centred.

We are carbon neutral and working towards net zero emissions.

We have an internal group who meet regularly to talk about how dxw can respond to the climate and ecological crisis.

Our Board of Trustees

As an employee owned agency, the dxw directors are accountable to our Board of Trustees for the performance of the company. The trustees make sure dxw meets its targets, is run in the best interests of the staff, and delivers on our mission to create public services that improve lives.

The Board of Trustees is chaired by dxw’s founder and has 2 employee trustees elected by the staff, together with 2 external trustees who bring outside expertise and challenge.

This Playbook

This Playbook is our reference for who we are and the way we do things. Something canonical that tells us what the current “right way” to do things is.

If you’re a current or potential client, this Playbook is also for you. To help you understand us and how we can work together.

We continually update the principles and guides in our Playbook. Because we’re always exploring better ways to get things done. What’s written here is the way we do things now. Until we find something better, and write that down.

This Playbook was originally inspired by Thoughtbot’s excellent playbook. Thanks, Thoughtbot!

Updating the Playbook

This Playbook is a collaborative effort. Anyone at dxw can and should edit it. So if you spot something that’s wrong, feel free to hop in and correct it.

But remember that this Playbook is the result of our conversations about how we should do things, not a substitute for one. So don’t make changes unless they reflect our shared agreement about how things are going to be done.

This document is also public, because there is very little about our process that cannot be open. But there will be some things that should be private. So don’t forget that changes here get published to the world.

To update the Playbook, follow the guide to Contributing to the Playbook and use dxw Tone of voice.

The work we do


Typical projects

Most of our projects are to research, design, build and support digital services for the public sector and organisations focused on work for ‘public good’. Broadly speaking, they are usually transactional services (making payments, bookings, reporting things) or informational services (corporate websites, campaigns, intranets). Sometimes they’re a bit of both.

In so doing, we try to make sure that the organisations we’re working with will be able to operate their new services well and sustainably. This sometimes involves work that an agency might not normally do, like advising an organisation’s leaders on how their teams could be restructured, or on what their digital strategy could be.

With the development of dxw’s strategy team, we are increasingly targeting more strategy-shaped opportunities, to help our clients prepare for, or improve the delivery of digital projects.

We also help clients host some of the services that we build, and by selling subscription-based products that are related to the rest of our work.


We bid on opportunities through a range of channels.

Some of our opportunities arrive directly, often via email, as a result of recommendations, word-of-mouth or through our active engagement and networking in the digital and public sector community.

We also take on work that is received for existing services via helpdesk tickets.

Most of the larger opportunities we bid on arrive via more formal channels like public sector framework agreements such as the Digital Marketplace.

When any opportunity arrives, we record it in our CRM tool, Hubspot. This happens automatically for opportunities published on the Digital Marketplace Outcomes and Specialists framework. Other opportunities are entered individually into Hubspot if they arrive to a specific person.

We record as much information as we can about opportunities when they arrive. An opportunity should be described in enough detail that someone else in the team could pick it up and work on it if needs be. That means that we always record a sensible name, the details of the organisation and where possible, we associate the opportunity to the Hubspot contact and company record of the person we’re talking to. If they have provided any documents, we upload those into Hubspot as well.

Opportunities go through several stages during their life, to show whether we’re waiting for more information, waiting for a meeting, writing a proposal and so on. For opportunities that we’re bidding on via the Digital Marketplace, our process mirrors the timelines buyers publish in alignment with these standard procurement rules.

When the process ends, a lead will either be won or lost.

Screening potential projects

At dxw our mission is to help create public services that improve people’s lives. Whether we achieve this depends a lot on the work we choose to do. We encourage an open and honest discussion about which work we take on. And we actively seek different perspectives, both inside and outside of dxw.

To decide whether a potential project is ethical and supports our mission, we consider:

  • Value

    The work is beneficial to the public, the client and dxw.

  • Practicality

    We can produce a great result within the likely constraints.

  • Culture

    We can work together with the client, the users and other stakeholders in ways that support our values and principles.

Matching people to projects

We understand that members of staff may have ethical, religious or other concerns about working on a particular project. If you do have concerns about a project, please raise them with your line manager or head of profession.


Clients aren’t always able to talk about their budgets, but we do need to know. If they absolutely can’t tell us, we do our best to estimate what it probably is, based on the information we have.

Where we don’t think we could do what the client needs within their budget, we explore alternative options with them that are more affordable. Sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s ok. Where it does, it tends to be because we’ve made a good case that it’s better to have a small feature set that works really well than a large one that’s slightly disappointing.

Where clients have a larger budget than we think they need, we say that too. This usually means explaining why we’re able to do the work for less than they thought. We also think about what extra things we could do to improve their chances of success and suggest extra work they could do.

Where a budget is disclosed that’s more than we think is necessary, we usually propose a piece of work that uses that budget fully. But we’re always open, and tell them that we’ve done this, and that we’d be delivering more than the minimum. And we’re always happy to win a smaller bit of work than the client thought they’d need. We try to structure these proposals so that the extra work is easy to remove.

Sales meetings

Wherever possible, we meet prospective clients before writing a proposal. This is because face-to-face conversation is the most efficient way to communicate, and the projects we bid for are often complex. Sometimes, this meeting is the way we qualify an opportunity.

By the end of this meeting, we should make sure that we understand:

  • Who the client’s users are
  • The user needs the client is trying to meet
  • Their current vision for how those needs will be met
  • Any notable technical requirements
  • What the project’s budget and deadlines are
  • How many suppliers are likely to be bidding
  • When they need to receive our proposal by

This meeting usually involves quite a bit of discussion about the project. In those discussions, we speak freely and openly, offering advice where appropriate and making any suggestions we might have. We always try to be as helpful, positive and creative as we can.

It’s important that we use this meeting to find out the information that we need to write a good proposal. But it’s just as important to prove our expertise, to deliver value early and to leave the client with a positive first impression.

Proposals and tenders

If the project is being tendered via a fixed process (such as the Digital Marketplace, ) we’ll respond by following the process that the client requests.

Bid writing is a team sport at dxw, so it’s important to involve the potential delivery team in the planning, writing and reviewing of the bid. This is important as it helps to set the team up for a successful pitch (if we need to do one) and eventual delivery if we win the work.

Whilst the process tends to be similar, not all opportunities are exactly the same, for example, sometimes we’ll be provided with a form to complete, and other times we’ll have more flexibility on the format of our proposal.

If we’re writing a proposal following our own format, we often start from a proposal template. The main things we’ll often need to write are:

  • A description of the project’s background. How did they get to the point they’re at now?
  • A description of the client’s vision. What are they trying to do?
  • An initial set of user needs. How does the client believe their service or project will make things better for these people?
  • Details of how we’ll approach the work
  • A proposed team to do the work, their roles and profiles.
  • How many sprints we estimate we will need to deliver the work.
  • A timeline for when we expect the sprints and other work will happen.
  • A cost for the work.

There are lots of examples of these proposals that anyone at dxw can read if they like.

Winning work

When we win work, we mark it as Won in Hubspot. We amend the budget, closing date and services sold if necessary. We write to the client to thank them and ask them for a convenient time to meet and talk about how and when we’ll start the work. We talk to the scheduling team and add the project’s sprints and other work to our scheduling tool, Productive, so that the team can see who’s working on what. And we talk to the finance team so that invoices can be created as drafts in our finance system Xero, so we don’t forget to bill them.

Losing work

We don’t always win work we bid for, particularly when it is run via a competitive tendering process, such as on the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework.

When we lose work, we mark it as Lost in Hubspot. We write to the client to thank them for their interest and ask them for any feedback they might have. We usually also say that we’d be happy to talk about any future work they might have. We record the main reason we didn’t win the work in Hubspot along with the detailed feedback.

We do our best to incorporate this feedback into future bids.

Some opportunities, upon review with the team or following discussions with the client, turn out not to be dxw-shaped things. This could be for lots of reasons - capacity, capability, location and so on. This is okay. When this happens, we update the client as soon as we can, explaining the reasons for our decision. We mark these opportunities as No bid in Hubspot, recording the main reason we made this decision, along with any context.

Building services

Client experience


One of the things our clients value most is responsiveness. Many will be under pressure to get things done quickly, and will be expected by their colleagues and managers to know what is going on at any given time, and to manage us effectively. If we’re not quick to respond to their queries, questions and concerns, we reduce their ability to maintain the confidence of their colleagues.

So, when we are on sprints, we endeavour to respond to our client quickly. It’s not always possible to resolve a problem or get an answer quickly, but that shouldn’t stop us from acknowledging a message or giving regular updates. As with tickets, being responsive to a query is just as important as giving a definitive answer.

When we get enquiries for clients who are not currently sprinting, we still answer as quickly as we can - but clients who are sprinting come first.

We also expect most communication with clients to happen with the project’s delivery lead. We don’t hide anyone on the team from the client, and they are free to ask questions of whomever they wish. But if you’re a developer and you get a question that’s really for a delivery lead to answer, refer the client on. This will help to keep you productive, and will help the client understand who on the dxw team does what.

Progress in every sprint

Delivering projects in an agile way requires trust between everyone involved in delivery. Clients must have confidence in us for the process to work. One of the quickest ways to lose confidence is to finish sprints with little to show for the effort we’ve made. In all of our work, we maintain a clear relationship between sprints and their associated costs, and visible, tangible changes to the service we’re working on.

This means that we structure work so that visible progress and supporting back-end work happens side-by-side. We don’t work on back-end or supporting code first, and then bolt front-ends on later. We make sure that what we’re doing is visible to our clients as early as possible. This helps us to maintain trust, and gives us more opportunities to learn what works and what doesn’t by involving users of the service in testing.


We involve clients in every aspect of our work. Projects work best when everyone involved feels part of the same team. So, other than the internal retro, there’s no aspect of our process that we do without client involvement.

In particular, we should go out of our way to involve clients when decisions are being made about design, user needs, or strategy (among other things). We’re not here to make decisions for our clients: we’re here to help them to make good decisions themselves. So we shouldn’t make decisions about important things without them.

This isn’t to say that we require clients to participate in everything. Clients and projects have varying needs, so this aspect of the process is flexible. But we always make the option of involvement available. If they want to join daily standups as well as participate in sprint planning, they can.

The structure of a project

At dxw we follow the Government Service Manual and our projects move through discovery, alpha, beta, live and retirement phases.

One change to our approach is the addition of an Inception phase at the start of a project, before discovery. We think this phase is necessary to set up a single team with our clients, establish ways of working, and get everyone behind a shared vision and goals for the project.

At a high level, we believe the purpose of each phase is:

Inception: Establish a single, multi-disciplinary team with the client. Bring everyone together for a kick-off session to agree principles for how we’ll work together. Run a roadmapping workshop to define a set of goals and vision for the project. The roadmap also clearly defines dependencies and risks, and a list of things to learn or prove to form the basis of a user research plan.

Discovery: Carry out research to define users and understand their needs. Document findings, user needs and user journeys. Sometimes this phase also involves conducting technical discovery work to look at different technologies and solutions that might meet users’ needs.

Alpha: Translate user needs into prototypes. Test prototypes with users and iterate them based on feedback. We also use the alpha phase to carry out technical spikes and experiments, and to make initial technology and service design decisions.

Beta: Build a working version of the service, based on what we learned in alpha. Carry out regular usability testing of the service with users, and launch a minimum viable product. Make plans for supporting the service and continue iterating it.

Live: Operate the service, carry out regular user research and continue to iterate it. If new user needs are identified, we develop the service and launch new features to meet them.

Retirement: Work out how user needs will be met without your service. Provide help and guidance, archiving, and links to other services. Don’t leave people in the lurch; never let a link die.

We don’t always do all these phases for every client. Often, we’ll only be involved in a couple. But we can help with all or any of them, depending on our clients’ needs.

Development sprints

We break down projects into two-week sprints. Throughout a project we maintain a product backlog, refine user stories based on what we learn and carry out development work to meet the user needs that have been identified.

Every project, client and team is different. But, there are some common approaches we take to all projects.

On the first day of a sprint we facilitate a planning session and finish sprints with a show and tell and retrospective. These sessions involve the whole team, including developers, user researchers, designers and delivery leads, as well as the product owner and other members of the client team.

Communicate Progress

Every morning a delivery lead facilitates a standup. Standups last 5-10 minutes and are for the team to discuss what they’re working on that day and whether there are any problems or dependencies affecting them. If the team is not co-located with a client, standups happen over a video-call.

During the sprints a delivery lead will share a week note, usually on a Friday, with everyone involved or interested in the project. The note will include a brief summary of what the team have done that week, what is planned for the following week and highlight blockers, dependencies or things the team is thinking about too.

At the end of each sprint the team run a show and tell. This is an opportunity for the team to show the work they have done on that sprint and allows people involved in the project to see what has been achieved. We work in an open and transparent way so encourage anyone interested in the project to attend the show and tell and ask questions.


Sprints begin with a planning session, where the whole team (dxw and the client) review and prioritise the stories in the backlog. Working together, we discuss the stories that we are prioritising for the current sprint, ensuring that they are well-formed and understood by everyone in the team.

Often this involves writing new stories and updating existing ones, but we try to avoid this becoming the main purpose of the meeting. In our experience, sprint planning is much more useful when the stories are written in advance.

During this session, developers discuss the effort required to finish each story. We discuss effort so we know whether we have a reasonable amount of stories to work on and we’re confident as a team that we can get through the stories in the backlog. Sometimes we will estimate stories. We do this based on complexity, not the time we think it will take to finish it.

Once estimated, stories are prioritised by the client and put into the backlog for the sprint. Developers also advise the rest of the team at this point if there are any technical dependencies the client should be aware of. By the end of the session, the full team should be confident about the goal of the sprint and what is going to be worked on.

Inspect and adapt our work

At the end of every sprint, a delivery lead facilitates a retrospective where the team discuss how the sprint went. We talk about what went well, what didn’t, and what we can do to improve how we work for the next sprint. These sessions are attended by all the people involved in delivering the sprint along with the client team. We use retros to make sure we acknowledge and continue to do the things that are working well, and also commit to change anything that can be improved.

Focus on user needs

At regular intervals the team look through the sprint backlog to re-prioritise and update stories, based on things we’ve learned during delivery and from user research. Stories that are no longer needed are deleted, stories that may be needed later or are blocked are put on hold (we call this the icebox) and all other stories are re-prioritised for future sprints.

We have regular user research playback sessions to ensure the whole team is involved in understanding user needs, feedback from user testing and what iterations means for the users.

User stories

We document development work that needs to be completed by writing user stories.

A user story is a succinct explanation of some work that will be done in order to meet the needs of a particular kind of user. They are usually structured into a sentence, of the form:

As a [kind of user], so that I can [meet a need], I want [a feature in the product]

Breaking everything down into user stories allows us to be confident that everything we develop is meeting user needs. By using this story format, we directly associate a feature or piece of functionality we’re building with the group of users who want it and the needs that they have.

We keep lists of stories in Trello. We use user needs to create the title of a story, by rearranging it to reflect the new state of the system after the work is complete. For example:

As an administrator, so that I can ensure I don’t publish defamatory comments, I want to be able to review and approve comments before they are shown.

Might have a title of:

Administrators can review and approve comments before they are shown

Each user story will also contain a list of acceptance criteria. Acceptance criteria are a collection of statements about the functionality of the service which must be true in order for the story to be considered “done”.

For more information about writing good stories, we recommend reading User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn. There is a copy of this book in the dxw library.

Lifecycle of a story

There are several states that a story has to go through in order to be deployed to production. We use Trello and physical story boards to keep track of which stage a given story is in.

  • In progress: A developer has started working on the story, making changes to the product to ensure that each acceptance criterion is met
  • Awaiting review: The developer has finished the story and is ready for a second developer to review the technical aspects of the story in a pull request
  • Code review: The story is being reviewed by the second developer who leaves feedback if the pull request is not ready to be merged and needs further work
  • dxw/client review: The two developers have finished the review and the story has been merged and pushed to staging. It is ready for a delivery lead and the client to review against its acceptance criteria
  • Accepted: The client has accepted the story and it’s ready to deploy to production
  • Done: The story has been deployed to production

Managing delivery

“The delivery manager sets the team up for successful delivery. They remove obstacles, or blockers to progress, constantly helping the team become more self organising. They enable the work a team does rather than impose how it’s done.” –Government Digital Service

At dxw, delivery leads ensure that sprints go smoothly and that the team remain productive. They are generally the client’s first and main point of contact, and are responsible for ensuring that we deliver good work.

Throughout a sprint, delivery leads ensure that an agreed process is followed, organising and facilitating discussions as required. They run sprint planning and retrospective sessions. They run daily standups with the dxw and client teams to keep everyone informed and to discuss and resolve any blockers.

Outside of these sessions and standups, they maintain regular communication with the client and the delivery team to respond quickly to challenges as they arise. If priorities change during a sprint, the delivery lead works with the client to understand and plan for the impact of the change.

Supporting services

The technology team supports some of our client services. We split our support into two units: GovPress and non-GovPress.

Support helpdesk

For both units we use Zendesk to manage support requests. All incidents and requests for us to fix a problem or make a change to a site we support come to us via Zendesk as a ticket. We use tickets to manage requests in order to:

  • keep track of all the things we need to do and what state they’re in, for us and our clients
  • have a record of the changes we’re asked to make
  • ensure that we only accept change requests from people who are authorised

If a client asks us to do something via any other channel, we ask them to email the request to support@dxw.com, which opens a ticket in Zendesk, or open a ticket directly.

It’s important that we do not do any work on a client website or service unless we are working during scheduled development time or on a relevant ticket.

Support rota

We work on tickets by having a developer from the delivery team and another developer from the GovPress team on support according to a rota, supported by an operations engineer.

Delivery team developers are assigned to support for one week at a time and work on tickets for the whole week. They are responsible for the non-GovPress support requests.

If you’re on support, take a look at the guide on how we handle support.

Support principles

Be responsive

Clients expect us to deal with their issues promptly. But they understand that this isn’t always possible. They are generally forgiving of the fact that we’re sometimes busy, and they understand that some issues are complex and require long investigations.

The thing most clients value above all else is being kept informed of what is going on. The first quality of a good ticket experience is responsiveness. We keep clients informed of what we’re doing, even if there hasn’t been much progress.

Stick to your commitments

It’s important that we do what we say we’ll do, and don’t promise things we can’t deliver. If we’re unable to deal with a ticket in good time and leave an update saying we’ll work on it tomorrow, we must meet that commitment.

It is doubly bad to fail to meet a commitment and not say anything about it. Responsiveness is always the priority. So if for some reason we couldn’t do what we said we’d do, we always respond to say so.

Make a good impression

In tickets as in all things, we are mindful of dxw’s values.

Many clients’ only routine contact with us is via support tickets, so it’s vital that their experience of the support system is a good one, and that they have a positive experience with us personally.

In general:

  • we are personable, friendly, and helpful
  • if things look like they’re going to get difficult or the client seems unhappy, we are honest and assume good faith
  • if we make a mistake, we take responsibility and apologise, and if the client seems very upset, we let the account manager know
  • if we do become annoyed or frustrated by a ticket, we come back to it later
Don’t over-deliver

Of course, every client would like us to go the extra mile to solve their problem. But they also understand that to do that for them would mean bad service for another client - or that we never get to their issue, because we’re too busy gold-plating the solution to someone else’s.

While we do everything we can to make sure the client is happy with our solution, we are also mindful of what’s practical. We don’t do extensive development work on tickets, or trial new approaches. We don’t play with new tools or sink hours into interesting bugs. We set those things aside, and schedule time to do them later.

The main purpose of a ticket is to take some action that solves the problem, as quickly as possible. Generally speaking, we do the most time-efficient thing that we can. Of several potential, acceptable solutions that solve the problem, we do the one which can be implemented the most quickly.

Sharing our expertise

Hosting events

We host a variety of face to face and online events to share our experience and expertise.

We work hard to design events that are accessible, inclusive and safe. We ask attendees about their individual access and support needs.

We publish a code of conduct for all the events we host. And we expect the hosts of events we are involved in to apply similar standards to the conduct of their sponsors, event organisers and participants.

Attending events

We all go to work-related events and conferences, sometimes for work and sometimes in our personal time.

No matter what capacity you’re attending an event in, you are a representative of dxw. What you say and do will influence the way people think about the company. It’s important that you make a positive impression and follow the code of conduct for the event.

We encourage everyone to network and talk about dxw’s work. Remember to tell people if we’re hiring and point them to our careers page on the dxw website.

Speaking at events

Speaking at events is a great opportunity to represent dxw.

If it’s an event around your personal speciality (front-end development, sysops, UX etc), feel free to stick to any personal branding, slide format, or talk style you might have already developed. At the start of your talk however, please introduce yourself as being from dxw, talk about what the company does, and what you do here.

If it’s an event more around dxw’s focus (public sector events, dxw projects, public-sector specific topic etc) you should use dxw’s branding and slide templates. Introduce the company in full and what your role is.

It takes time to prepare talks that work well. If you need help or advice please ask for it in the #dxw-marketing channel on Slack.

It’s also good to blog after the event, to share the content or to talk about your experience and what you learned.

If you need time to be set aside to prepare or follow up a talk, talk to your delivery lead and see what’s possible.

Our blog

At dxw, we encourage people to blog regularly. Both on the dxw blog, and on personal and community blogs.

We blog because we want to share what we’re doing and what we’re learning with the public sector digital community. We work in the open and are keen to share our knowledge, express our values and get people thinking about how to improve services for the public sector.

When we’re hiring, we also want potential new staff to be able to get to know us beforehand.

When we blog we use the dxw tone of voice.

We record ideas for blog posts and the schedule for publishing on a Trello board. This is managed by the marketing team, who can offer you help and advice on ideas and support with writing if you need it. They will also manage the final sign off and publishing of posts. Get in touch through the #dxw-marketing channel on Slack.


The marketing team run dxw’s official Twitter account.

When we tweet we use the dxw tone of voice.

We encourage people to work openly and to tweet about the work they’re doing, their learning and ideas from their own accounts. You should be careful not to share any confidential information and check that people are content before using any pictures of them. Remember that you are representing dxw whether or not you identify yourself as working here in your Twitter profile.

Working here

Managing your day to day work

Working hours

Our working hours are 10:00-18:00, Monday to Friday. Some people work different hours by arrangement. Anyone is free to do that as long as their hours of work don’t make it hard for other people to get things done. For example, many people arrive earlier than 10:00 and leave earlier, which is generally fine.

Each team has a short standup every morning, where we each tell the whole team about a single thing we will get done that day. If you think you’re going to be late, you should let everyone know in the project Slack channel.

Most developers have maintenance responsibilities, which they do during their support rotation.

We do our very best to work at a sustainable pace. But sometimes, when we’re approaching a firm deadline or a launch, or a client is having an emergency, we work longer hours than normal. From time to time, there’s an emergency that means we have to work during unsociable hours to solve the problem. Neither of these happen very often, but they are a normal part of life at dxw.

Sending emails or posting in Slack outside of working hours can be a good way to get things off your mind, but it can create an unintended sense of urgency for the people who receive your message. Try to avoid creating that urgency when it’s not necessary. For example, by specifically saying that you don’t expect an immediate response.

Unless they are actually urgent, you can ignore messages you receive outside of working hours and handle them when you are back at work.

Working days

Client days

We charge clients “time and materials” for the work we do, based on a per person day rate.

We generally schedule team members to work on particular projects for a whole two week sprint at a time, and track and bill that time in half days and whole days. Delivery leads work with the finance team to track and invoice the time of the team; having regularly patterned working helps the process to run as smoothly as possible, without confusion and without taking more time than needed. Any working arrangement needs to make it straightforward to track, report and invoice for your time.

When working on a project we work as a single multi-disciplinary team. We’re often working on phases of projects where there’s a lot of unknowns and a lot of learning, so we use agile approaches and strongly favour being able to work together on problems. That’s often easier when co-located, particularly when working with clients, pairing, or participating in workshops. Any working arrangement needs to support active synchronous collaboration with the team.

Internal teams

Internal facing roles, in which time is not billable to a client, have a more regularly structured full- or part-time working week.

We encourage people in internal facing roles to take part in dxw time activities to contribute to our culture and to improve our ways of working.

dxw time

We regularly come together to work on our own projects and processes, most often on a Friday.

This dxw time is important for us to maintain our strong culture and identity, and to improve our practices, separate from the clients we work for.

Working from home

We are able to work successfully in a remote capacity, from our homes. On occasions, it may be necessary to work from one of our office spaces, a client location or another location approved by dxw in order to complete a specific task. It is important that you remain contactable and productive.

Working from Overseas Policy

dxw is a UK-based business, with staff working from locations around the UK.

We don’t support overseas employment unless exceptional circumstances apply. This is because there are usually significant overheads involved in complying with local employment laws, registering for and paying the relevant taxes.

If you believe there are exceptional circumstances, a request can be made for consideration via your line manager. All decisions must be made by a Director.

We will take the following factors into account for any cases we consider.

The legal framework for a decision:

  • the individual’s right to work in a particular location
  • the employer’s obligation to comply with the relevant country’s employment laws, and how complex and costly that is to achieve
  • the employer’s obligation to comply with the relevant country’s taxation rules, and how complex and costly that is to achieve

Operational challenges we need to be comfortable with:

  • management of time zones
  • management of a fully remote team member
  • client and contractual procurement needs
  • the requirements of the role

We would expect individuals to meet any costs (travel, internet, equipment etc) associated with their working overseas.

dxw will always retain the right to ask you to return to the UK for work with suitable notice, in line with our employment contract.

Reporting your time

Everyone who works on a client project at dxw is responsible for reporting the time they spend on projects. We usually work with our clients on a time and materials basis, so it’s important we can accurately track and report how our time is spent on client projects.

We use Productive to schedule our work, which helps us to forecast our capacity over future weeks and months in a reliable way.

We track our time at the same level of granularity that we bill it – for almost everyone in the team, that’s half days or whole days.

What to do when reporting your time

When reporting our time, we follow these guidelines:

  • If what was scheduled matches reality, simply confirm this time.
  • If you worked on a named project (client or internal including “dxw Support”), that differs from the schedule, record your time as that.
  • If you worked on something else, leave the time blank or zero out what you were scheduled to work on.
  • If you were off sick or on leave, make sure this is recorded on BreatheHR and it should be automatically copied across to Productive.
  • If you were away due to a regular day off, as part of your working pattern, leave the time blank or zero out what you were scheduled to work on.

If you’re not doing client work, then unless you’re working on one of a handful of named internal projects or support, you don’t need to record your time against any other piece of work – the assumption is you’re doing valuable work, whether it’s learning, helping with recruitment or improving our tooling and processes, and we don’t need itemised time tracking to justify that.

We’ve set up the platform, so that it understands individual team members’ working patterns. This means the team don’t need to worry about entering in their non working days.

Our delivery leads lend a helping hand when delivery team members aren’t sure how to record their time – they’ve been doing this for a long while and have a well developed sense for it.

Getting things you need

Anytime you need to order something or experience a problem with your working set up you can find guidance in the playbook, through a ‘help’ slack channel or from your line manager who can point you in the right direction.

Helpful Slack channels
  • #help-purchasing: see the guide for equipment purchase and use the purchasing form. Additional questions can be asked through the channel.
  • #help-travel: see the travel and expenses policy first and then use the channel for additional questions.
  • #help-internal-tech-support: for any technical support questions.
  • #help-tools-and-subscriptions: for any questions about the purchase and use of external tools and subscriptions.
  • #help-productive: for any questions about the use of Productive.
  • #help-learning-and-development-ideas: find and share learning and development ideas.
  • #help-learning-and-development-bookings: see the guide for how to get approval and book your L&D.
  • #help-hr-non-confidential: for any non confidential questions about what we provide.
Equipment guidance

We can support you with your home-office set-up, including things like a desk, monitor and keyboard. Here’s a guide which shows what we can support with.

Claiming expenses

From time to time, some of us spend our own money at work. Most often, this is things like:

  • Train fares for unexpected travel
  • Refreshments purchased for meetings with clients
  • Stationery/materials, especially for workshops or events

dxw will always pay expenses which are:

  • Necessary: We only expense things we need in order to be able to complete our work.
  • Proportionate: The total expense should be proportionate to the work at hand. In general, we try to avoid spending lots of money. For example, unless you have a good reason, don’t get a cab to a meeting when you could get a train.

Wherever possible, it’s best to check that expenses can be reclaimed before incurring them.

We manage expenses using Xero. For more information about how to do this, see the guide on claiming expenses

Travel and Accommodation Policy

Currently, the default for everyone in the organisation is working from home.

For this period, we will consider regular travel to an office space without a business critical need as commuting.

Commuting costs are the responsibility of individuals, while dxw will fund business critical travel and accommodation.

A business critical need is defined as:

  • Client meetings
  • Meetings with your line manager (e.g. during probation, monthly check-ins, quarterly reviews, post parental / sick leave)
  • Team meetups (e.g. design community, tech forum, away days, Board meetings)
  • All-staff in-person events
  • Conferences and training events

At present, there is no obligation to attend in-person meetings.

As with all company expenses, please keep in mind that costs should be necessary and proportionate. We rely on everyone to be conscious of the impact of their travel on the environment. If you are able to take public transport, over being driven/driving yourself, please do.

Accommodation will be covered for business-critical events that require overnight stays.

There are guidelines including rates and a list of recommended hotels.

Accommodation should be booked by the individual on a Pleo company debit card or expensed.

Any decision that this policy does not clearly resolve, should be made by the appropriate director.

Calendars and documents

We use Google Workspace to manage calendars, write and share documents. There is a dxw folder where we share most of the things we write. If you can’t see it when you log in to Google Drive, you’ll need to ask someone else to send you the link, and then click “Add to drive”.

When we write new things, we try to save them in a sensible folder within the existing structure.

Internal tech support

If you experience problems with laptops, wi-fi, tools, etc, post a message in the #help-internal-tech-support Slack channel.

Using a personal device at work

Most of us use at least one personal device as part of our work, because it’s more convenient than carrying lots of devices around. However, no one is obligated to use a personal device for work. If you need a dxw-provided phone, tablet or other device, please ask for one.

Anyone who does use a personal device must take reasonable care to ensure that it cannot compromise dxw’s security. This includes implementing prudent security measures, being mindful that your personal devices could be targeted as part of an attack on dxw or its clients. For example, you might receive an email to your personal email address designed to trick you into revealing a work-related password.

Exactly what security measures are prudent may vary depending on the device and what you’re using it for. Some good practice examples are:

  • Configuring screens to lock after a period of inactivity
  • Ensuring that work-related data on the device is regularly backed up
  • Encrypting storage
  • Using good passwords and changing defaults
  • Avoiding connecting devices to untrustworthy networks (internet cafes, security conferences, unencrypted (open) wifi networks, etc)
  • Disposing of your device securely when you no longer need it

If you need to use a personal device but cannot take these sorts of measures, you should get permission first.

Report a lost or stolen device used for work

Submit an urgent ticket by sending an email to support-emergency@dxw.com stating which work device was lost or stolen and when the incident had occurred.

Our support staff will be immediately notified, at any time of day.

Data protection

Though dxw doesn’t control much personal data, our clients generally do. And some of it may be held on sites that we host. Everyone at dxw has a responsibility to keep that data safe, and process it in accordance with the data protection principles.

In particular, we:

  • Only process personal data as part of work on the service that we’re contracted to provide to a client
  • Don’t access personal data unless we need to in order to do our jobs: don’t read people’s personal data or private communications without good reason
  • We do not ever disclose people’s personal data to anyone outside dxw unless specifically instructed, and are satisfied that it is legal to do so

If you have any questions about data protection, talk to the Data Protection Officer, Gurps.

Protective marking scheme

Some information that we have is confidential. We use a protective marking scheme so that everyone understands how to handle this material, and who they’re allowed to disclose it to. All of the documents and data we hold will fall into one of the categories below.

  • Management-in-Confidence: internal documents whose circulation within dxw needs to be restricted.
  • Company Confidential: information owned by dxw which would be of value to those outside the company, such as competitors, and whose loss or theft would potentially damage the company.
  • Client Confidential or Commercial in Confidence: information owned by dxw or its clients, which needs to remain confidential between dxw and the client.
  • Unclassified: information, which would not be of significant commercial value to those outside dxw.

Some of our clients also have protective marking schemes. For example, all central government bodies will apply the Government Protective Marking System (GPMS). If you are in possession of materials that are protectively marked using other schemes, treat them as company confidential.

We take care to handle all data carefully, but when information is protectively marked, extra requirements apply.

Because we value openness highly, we take care not to over-classify information. We don’t protectively mark information unless there is a good reason to keep it confidential.


This category is used only for dxw’s most confidential information. For example, employment records, salary details and company strategy documents.

Do not share any information with this marking with any person, whether internal or external to dxw.

This information:

  • Must be clearly labelled or described as “Management-in-confidence”
  • When printed

    • Stored only in a locked container
    • Transported only via courier, recorded delivery or personally by dxw staff
    • Destroyed by cross-cut shredding when no longer required
  • When digital

    • Stored in an encrypted format
    • Communicated only when encrypted or via an encrypted connection, unless emailed from one dxw.com address to another
Company Confidential

This category is used for information which should not be communicated outside dxw. For example, details about how we operate security controls or internal discussions about client work.

Exactly the same controls apply to this information as detailed under Management-in-confidence, with the exception that Company Confidential information can be shared within dxw as required.

Client Confidential or Commercial in Confidence

This category is used for information which is disclosed to a limited group of people external to dxw, or which is unclassified information we have received from clients. For example, dxw proposals, presentations for pitches or planning documents.

Unless otherwise specified, all unclassified information we receive from clients falls into this category.

This information:

  • Must be clearly labelled or described as “Client Confidential” or “Commercial in Confidence”
  • When printed:

    • Stored out of sight
    • Destroyed by cross-cut shredding when no longer required
  • When digital:

    • Stored in an encrypted format when on exchangeable media or a mobile device

As a rule of thumb, label a document as Client Confidential if it mostly contains the client’s confidential information, or Commercial in Confidence if it mostly contains dxw’s.


Anything not captured by the sections above is unclassified. Examples are external marketing material, general emails and letters.

Beyond a general duty to treat information carefully, unclassified information is not subject to any specific restrictions.

Email signature

Note: please use Helvetica or Arial as the font in your emails.

Job Title
Twitter handle - if you’re comfortable to share
Mobile - if you’re comfortable to share

www.dxw.com :: 0345 2577520 :: @dxw :: creating better digital public services

Email autoresponder

If you require an out of office message on your email account please follow the instructions given by the mail service provider and include the contact details for another member of the team for any urgent queries and a return date.

Your pay, pension and other benefits

All perks and benefits are available to the dxw team after the successful passing of their probationary period.

Changes to your details

Please tell us promptly if your name, address, telephone number, next of kin details or banking details change and keep those details up to date in Breathe.

Pay Policy


The purpose of the dxw pay policy is to give us a framework to pay salaries at the highest level we can, in the fairest way possible and in the most sustainable way for the long-term commercial health of the business. Alongside our mission and values, and the way we look after and develop our teams, it’s an important part of us being able to attract and retain great people.


The following principles underpin the policy:

  • Transparency
  • Parity amongst similar roles
  • Equality of pay for those with the same role
  • Clear levels of responsibility and accountability
  • Clear career progression
How the policy works
  1. Applies to all staff in both billable and non billable teams. Statutory directors will each have a performance framework that is independent from this policy.
  2. Billable team pay has published pay points per level, that are based on 3 main factors:

    • Skills for the Information Age (SFIA) standards and rates which clients use to measure dxw against
    • profitability margins based on expected billable rates
    • the labour market and salaries based on this
  3. Non billable team pay has published pay bands that are based fundamentally on the labour market, but could also include other factors such as professional qualifications and sales targets.
  4. Each director is responsible for overseeing pay for their teams and has overall responsibility for justifying decisions against the principles and criteria in this policy. This policy will be reviewed at least every 2 years. The review will take place between October and February, to avoid changes to salaries shortly before the annual CPI rise. Any changes to pay points / bands will be subject to approval by the dxw board.
  5. For roles equivalent to SFIA levels 1-5 we would expect promotions or pay changes to be handled within the team based on the progression framework, with a director or delegated head of taking responsibility for this
  6. For roles that are more senior i.e. SFIA level 6 equivalent or above we would expect the board to consider these, with internal interview panels to help make a decision (where necessary)
  7. Everyone should have an annual review of their performance and career progression and pay as a minimum after passing probation. It’s up to each line manager to arrange more frequent check-ins on progression, so that the outcome of the annual review is not a surprise
  8. Line managers are responsible for ensuring that all staff are given equal opportunities, and pay discussions are fair and inclusive. If staff would like an independent opinion in these discussions, they should contact Vanessa in the first instance who can facilitate.
  9. dxw works with an independent HR advisor, who can assist if needed to help resolve any issues.
Cost of living
  1. London weighting of £4,000 per year applies to staff who earn under £40,000 per year to help them with the additional costs of living in London.

    • This applies to people who live in a London borough.
    • If someone’s salary increases above this level, London weighting will gradually taper off (by £500 for each £1000 of extra salary) between £40,000 and £48,000
    • The rationale for these numbers is taken from Trust for London research which shows London weighting materially benefits people on salaries under £40,000.
    • It is subject to tax & NI and is not pensionable
    • It is a fixed rate, not uplifted by CPI
  2. Annual cost of living CPI rises will apply for staff if the company achieves turnover above its minimum target for the preceding financial year.

    • If you’ve passed your probation then you’ll receive your raise in October payroll
    • CPI rises will not apply to people who for historic reasons are above the maximum pay level for their role, to help us gradually align salaries for similar roles
    • If someone is under formal disciplinary or performance procedures, their CPI rise will be postponed while this is ongoing
    • The CPI figure comes from published Office of National Statistics data
  3. We are committed to paying the London living wage or higher for all staff.

Cost of living raise

dxw will institute a cost of living raise each year on 1st October. The percentage will be set by the CPI Index as of 1st October each year.

  • Annual cost of living CPI rises will apply for staff if the company achieves turnover above its minimum target for the preceding financial year.
  • If you have passed your probation, you will receive your raise in the October payroll.
  • For those team members who joined prior to 1st October of that year, but haven’t yet passed probation, you will receive your raise in the month you successfully complete it and it will be the same percentage as of 1st October CPI that year.
  • If you joined on or after 1st October (that year), you will not be eligible for a cost of living raise until the following October.
  • If you are leaving during October you will not receive the cost of living raise.


dxw provides a pension which is operated by Aviva. Once you have passed your 3 month check in, you will be auto enrolled into the scheme, receive details by post of the necessary employer/employee contributions and have the option to set your percentage or opt out.

dxw will match any contribution up to 5%.

Your contribution will be relief at source, with 0.8 deducted from your monthly salary and the additional 0.2 added from tax relief.

For more details on Relief at Source, please visit the Aviva website.


If you want to take time off:

  1. Discuss the dates with your team and delivery lead

    This gives them a chance to manage any impact it might have on the wider team and the project.

  2. Request the holiday through BreatheHR

    We use BreatheHR to track who’s off and when, so we can plan for it. Your line manager can then see and approve your request.

  3. Add your holiday to your Google calendar

    If someone is trying to find out where you are, or when you’re available, the first thing they’ll check is your calendar.

    When you are on a client project, you may also need to add your holiday to a shared or team calendar. Check with your delivery lead.

Your line manager will normally approve requests that are for 10 days or less and made at least 4 weeks in advance. Anything longer or requested with less notice will need to be managed to understand its impact on client, team or personal work.

When your planned leave has been approved, it will be automatically added to Productive. Each member of our delivery team uses the tool to record the days they work on client projects on a weekly basis.

There is more information about dxw’s holiday arrangements in your contract of employment.

TOIL (Time off in lieu)

Where possible we try to keep a sustainable pace of work and avoid working outside normal hours; occasionally this might not be possible.

How is TOIL calculated?

TOIL (time off in lieu) is awarded when you work over and above your contracted working hours continuously for a period of time or when you attend/travel to an event outside of your contracted working hours. TOIL should be agreed with your delivery lead or line manager ahead of doing the extra work.

We encourage you to use your TOIL within the two weeks of extra work or event attended as it’s meant to be for resting and making up for working at a sustainable pace. We know this may not be feasible in every case so please speak to your Line Manager or a member of the HR team if you have any questions.

There are two options of how to use your TOIL, you can calculate the amount of hours you have accrued (ie half a day) and take it off at once or take a couple of hours a day spread over a period of time. Planning when you’ll take TOIL is important, particularly if you’re working on a billable project so please speak to your Delivery Lead before doing any overtime and arrange when you’ll be able to take the time back.

How to request TOIL?

Using BreatheHR similar to the way that you request holiday, there is a TOIL drop down, please write a note as to why you are requesting the leave and this will be approved by a member of the HR team. Please note this will not deduct from your holiday allowance shown on your BreatheHR dashboard.


This policy covers both short and longer term sickness absences. Our aim is to look after the health and wellbeing of all dxw staff and the needs of the company.

Communication of sickness

If you’re sick, you must let your line manager and a member of the HR team know by 10:00am or as soon as you reasonably can after that. This can be done via email, directly on Slack, phone call or text. Line managers will record and monitor sickness for individuals within their teams.

If you are unwell and know that you are going to be off for a period of time, or have been signed off by your GP until a certain date, you don’t need to update your line manager daily. Let them know when you will be checking in again so they know when to expect to hear from you.

When you return to work, you must check your sickness has been correctly recorded in BreatheHR, update it if necessary and mark yourself as returned to work. Your line manager will then review and close the sick leave. If you’re sick for more than 28 calendar days in a row, you’ll also need to provide a doctor’s note.

Absence meetings

Your line manager should check-in with you on a regular basis about your wellbeing, and catch up with you after any sickness absence to see how you are. If you’re sick for more than 7 working days over a rolling 12 month period, your line manager will invite you to an absence meeting to discuss your health. Where appropriate, we’ll talk about how we can support your return to work and any temporary or permanent adjustments which might help improve your wellbeing and support you to need fewer absences. We might also agree an action plan and / or a review period. Where we think it would be helpful, we’ll seek advice via an Occupational Health advisor.

If you have a long term health condition and would like to discuss reasonable adjustments and ways of working that will help, we welcome a conversation at any point. The sooner we know, the sooner we can support you.

Reasonable Adjustments

A reasonable adjustment is “a change to remove or reduce the effect of an employees’ disability or long term health condition so they can do their job”. If you would like to discuss ways of working and reasonable adjustments that will help you, please talk to your line manager or the people manager at any point. The sooner we know, the sooner we can support you. We will never use the disclosure of a disability or long term health condition against you.

We’ll organise a meeting (or a series of meetings if needed) between you, your line manager, and the people manager where we will discuss any difficulties you are facing and how dxw are able to support you. If there is any additional support we can reasonably give you, for example changes to your working pattern or working environment, we will. We need to balance dxw’s financial sustainability and the unavoidable impact of any adjustments made on your teams with your needs to make sure we are able to give fair and consistent treatment to everyone in need of adjustments, but we will make every effort to make working at dxw as healthy and sustainable for you as we can.

If you need further support, in addition to any support we are able to provide you as an employer and through occupational health, there may be state provided benefits that apply to you. These may include disability and sickness benefits or the Access to Work scheme. If you would like support finding, understanding, or applying for alternatives outside of dxw please discuss this with your line manager or our people manager.


Within any rolling 12 month period, a person will receive:

  • full pay for the first 12 days of sickness absence
  • half pay (but no less than living wage) for the next 8 days of sickness absence
  • real living wage for the next 10 days of sickness absence
  • statutory sick pay pay after 30 days of sickness absence

There’ll be circumstances where we’ll make exceptions, because it’s not possible to write a policy that is fair in every situation. This structure will form our starting point for those decisions. All decisions on exceptions will be made by the Directors’ group. Our aim is to ensure that we’re treating everyone fairly and consistently, while being aware of our financial requirements.

Long term medical treatment

Regular and open communication with your line manager is important so we can support you in the best possible way through a period of long term medical treatment (a period of more than 2 weeks).

If you require long term medical treatment that would affect your ability to work as normal, but you are still able to work, we will support this wherever we can. We may consider a change of project or role where that’s an option.

If you finish your treatment, your line manager will organise a meeting to aid your return to work, or to normal working hours, and ensure your ongoing wellbeing is supported. We may look at a phased return for example.


If your sickness absence continues for 3 months after an absence meeting, your line manager will set up a further meeting to discuss your situation. We will look to make any further reasonable adjustments to help you get back working. This might include looking for a suitable alternative role that fits your circumstances better.

Where we’re unable to reach an agreement that means you’re able to maintain a reasonable level of attendance for work, we may consider your dismissal. We will only do this after we have exhausted all other options.

Medical appointments

We support staff who need regular time off for medical appointments or counselling. If you need to attend an appointment, you should talk to your line manager. For meetings of a couple of hours or so (including travel time), your line manager will usually ask you to try to make the hours up during the week. If the time off is longer but less frequent, the hours can be made up over a longer period of time.

If you need to attend a one off appointment or an appointment for a dependent let your line manager or delivery lead know as far in advance as possible. If you are going to be away from work for more than half a day then you will need to track it through BreatheHR.

In both cases, this might mean a conversation with your delivery lead or equivalent to make sure work is managed in the best way. If it’s not possible to recover the time taken in a flexible way, for example, due to the amount or pattern of time needed, your line manager may need to refer to another one of our policies. That might include considering a part-time working pattern.

Compassionate leave

If you need to take compassionate leave, let your line manager and a member of the HR team know, so we can support you in the right way. If you are on a project, we can then work with your delivery lead to manage the impact on the team.

Compassionate leave is likely to affect many of us at some time or other, in many different ways. Typically compassionate leave covers things like bereavement or the sudden illness of close relatives and friends. But we understand that loss can manifest itself in other forms which can affect your wellbeing.

This policy aims to set some guidance for line managers while also allowing reasonable flexibility to reflect different circumstances.

In the first instance, line managers can allow up to 3 days of paid compassionate leave. They should consult their Director for approval if they think further paid leave may be appropriate in the circumstances.

Our automatic parental bereavement entitlement is 2 weeks of paid leave, as set out by ACAS.

There is the option for additional time off to be taken using annual or unpaid leave. This should be agreed between the line manager and Director, in consultation with HR. We can also provide support for people returning to work in line with our existing policies.

To record compassionate leave in BreatheHR, choose Other as the Type of Leave, and choose Compassionate as the Reason.

Jury duty leave

Jury duty leave is generally paid for each day (or part thereof) that you are required to attend Court -

  • if you are required to complete Jury Service dxw will pay your normal salary less £64.95 per day. Once you have completed your Jury Service you are able to claim £64.95 towards your loss of earnings, and any care or childcare outside of your usual arrangements here   
  • dxw will re-consider the payment amount if an individual is on a case that exceeds 4 weeks. This amount will be reviewed by Directors and a decision will be made with the individual 

Let your line manager or HR manager know as soon as you are able that you have been requested for Jury Service with a copy of your jury summons

Parental leave

We’re aware that there is a lot to take in here - please come and talk to the HR People Manager if you have questions about anything (when you’re ready).

While many terms around parental leave are gendered, gender is not a factor in what leave you are entitled to from dxw. What matters is whether you, or your partner if you have one, are pregnant, adopting or having a baby through surrogacy.

We also make a distinction based on whether you are a primary carer (the person who will be on parental leave for the longer period of time) or a secondary carer (the person who will be returning to work first) as there will be differences in both the statutory and dxw entitlement.

This policy will be reviewed in May 2022.

Understanding your entitlement

We’ve detailed the different entitlements that dxw offer in addition to your statutory entitlement below. There’s an online calculator for working out your statutory entitlement. If you’d like support working out your anticipated pay and you’re ready to share the news even just with a select few, you can speak to the HR People Manager for a personal breakdown of your entitlement.

If you’re having IVF or another fertility treatment

If you share with us that you are undergoing fertility treatment you will be supported in the same way as for other longer term medical treatment. Regular, open and confidential communication with your line manager will be important, so we can support you in the best possible way.

If you’re pregnant

Summary: In most cases, you will be paid 100% of your normal salary for the first 18 weeks of leave, reduced to the government statutory rate per week for the following 21 weeks.

What you are legally entitled to:

If you’re pregnant, you’ll be entitled to Statutory Maternity Leave (SML) and probably entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). Statutory Maternity Leave entitles you to 52 weeks leave, made up of Ordinary Maternity Leave for the first 26 weeks and Additional Maternity Leave for the last 26 weeks.

Statutory Maternity Pay is paid by the government for up to 39 weeks. They will pay you 90% of your normal salary for the first 6 weeks of your leave. You must have worked for dxw for 26 weeks before your qualifying week (the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth) to be eligible for SMP or you will be entitled to Maternity Allowance instead.

What dxw offers in addition:

If you are the primary carer, dxw will pay you 100% of your salary for the next 12 weeks of your leave and will top up your first 6 weeks of SMP (if you are entitled to it) to 100%. This contribution is called Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP) . Taken together, this means that you would have 18 weeks of leave on 100% of your normal salary.

As with all company benefits, you will be entitled to Occupational Maternity Pay once you are no longer on your probationary period. For the Statutory Maternity Pay eligibility criteria, please refer to government eligibility information for maternity pay.

After the 18 weeks, your pay will then reduce to the government statutory rate for maternity pay per week for the following 21 weeks.

A person giving birth must take at least the first 2 weeks after the birth as parental leave.

When you know you are pregnant please tell us as soon as you are comfortable. We can restrict this knowledge to your Director, Line Manager and People Manager and it will allow us to check that your working arrangements are safe, help you manage any pregnancy related sickness and make sure you are paid for time off for antenatal care appointments. Legally you don’t have to make us aware until 15 weeks before your due date. We will require a MATB1 certificate ahead of your parental leave, the earlier we receive this, the earlier we can help with calculations.

Please refer here for further statutory terms around pregnancy.

If you’re adopting

Summary: In most cases, you will be paid 100% of your normal salary for the first 18 weeks of leave, reduced to the government statutory rate per week for the following 21 weeks.

What you are legally entitled to:

If you are adopting, you’ll probably be eligible for Statutory Adoption Leave and Statutory Adoption Pay. Statutory Adoption Leave entitles you to 52 weeks of leave, made up of 26 weeks of Ordinary Adoption Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Adoption Leave.

Statutory Adoption Pay is paid by the government for up to 39 weeks. The government will pay you 90% of your normal salary for the first 6 weeks of your leave. You must have worked for dxw for at least 26 weeks by the week you were matched with a child and give at least 28 days notice of the adoption leave. Proof of adoption is required to qualify for Statutory Adoption Pay.

What dxw offers in addition:

If you are the primary carer, dxw will pay you 100% of your salary for the next 12 weeks of your leave and top up the first 6 weeks of Statutory Adoption Pay (if you are entitled to it) to 100%. Taken together, this means that you would have 18 weeks of leave on 100% of your normal salary.

As with all company benefits, you will be entitled to Occupational Adoption Pay once you are no longer on your probationary period. For the Statutory Adoption Pay eligibility criteria, please refer to government eligibility information for adoption pay.

Your pay will then reduce to the government statutory rate for adoption pay per week for the following 21 weeks.

Only 1 person in a couple can take statutory adoption leave. The other partner could get secondary carer leave/pay instead (see secondary carer section below).

If you are taking adoption leave, you are entitled to paid time off work to attend 5 adoption appointments after you’ve been matched with a child.

If you’re having baby through surrogacy

Summary: In most cases, you will be paid 100% of your normal salary for the first 18 weeks of leave, reduced to the government statutory rate per week for the following 21 weeks.

What you are legally entitled to:

If you are having a baby through surrogacy, you’ll probably be eligible for Statutory Adoption Leave and Statutory Adoption Pay. Assuming you are entitled to Statutory Adoption Leave, this entitles you to 52 weeks of leave, made up of 26 weeks of Ordinary Adoption Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Adoption Leave.

Statutory Adoption Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks. The government will pay you 90% of your normal salary for the first six 6 weeks of your leave. You must have worked for dxw for at least 26 weeks by the week and advise us by way of a statutory declaration at least 15 weeks before the expected week of birth.

What dxw offers in addition:

If you are the primary carer, dxw will pay you 100% of your salary for the next 12 weeks of your leave and top up the first 6 weeks of Statutory Adoption Pay (if you are entitled to it) to 100%. Taken together, this means that you would have 18 weeks of leave on 100% of your normal salary.

As with all company benefits, you will be entitled to Occupational Adoption Pay once you are no longer on your probationary period. For the Statutory Adoption Pay eligibility criteria, please refer to government eligibility information for adoption pay.

Your pay will then reduce to the government statutory rate for adoption pay per week for the following 21 weeks.

Only 1 person in a couple can take adoption leave. The other partner could get secondary carer leave/pay instead (see secondary carer section below).

If you are the secondary carer

As a reminder, the primary carer is the person who will be on parental leave for the longer period of time. The secondary carer is the person who will be returning to work first.

The main statutory entitlement for secondary carers is still known as paternity leave, and that is the only reason we use the term in this context.

Summary: In most cases, you will be paid 100% of your normal salary for 5 weeks.

What you are legally entitled to:

If your partner is pregnant, you are adopting, or you are having a baby through surrogacy, you’ll probably be eligible for Statutory Paternity Leave (SPL) and Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) or Statutory Adoption Leave and Statutory Adoption Pay.

SPL may be taken for one or two consecutive weeks, between the date of birth and 56 days afterwards. You can find the current SPP rate here.

What dxw offers in addition:

dxw will instead pay you 100% of your normal salary for 5 weeks of parental leave. You may take these consecutively or separately during the first year from birth/adoption. If you want to take more than 5 weeks of leave you can use shared parental leave (see below).

If you are going to become the primary carer for any reason (for example medical incapacity, or bereavement) within the first 18 weeks from the birth or adoption of a child, dxw will consider your eligibility for 100% pay in line with our offer for primary carers. Please approach the People Manager to discuss this.

As with all company benefits, you will be entitled to these once you are no longer on your probationary period.

Shared parental leave

If you’re having a baby, adopting a child, or having a baby through surrogacy, you may be eligible for Shared Parental Leave and Pay. There are a lot of factors to eligibility, please refer to the government site to review your particular circumstances.

If you’re eligible and you or your partner ends maternity or adoption leave and pay (or Maternity Allowance) early, then you can:

  • take the rest of the 50 weeks of maternity or adoption leave as Shared Parental Leave (SPL)
  • take the rest of the 37 weeks of maternity or adoption pay (or Maternity Allowance) as Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). ShPP is paid at the current rate per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

If you’re interested in taking this up, please talk to the People Manager. As with all company benefits, you will be entitled to these once you are no longer on your probationary period.

Keeping in touch (KIT) days

For pregnancy, adoption and surrogacy, the primary carer has 10 paid KIT days to take during their parental leave, if they wish to come in for departmental meetings, events or just to spend some time with the team.

Those on shared parental leave can each work up to 20 days while taking SPL. These are called ‘Shared Parental Leave in touch’ (or SPLIT) days. These days are in addition to the 10 ‘keeping in touch’ (or KIT) days available to the primary carer.

This won’t affect your statutory pay and dxw will top this up so you receive a normal day’s pay for each KIT/SPLIT day.

Returning to work

Returning to work is a personal decision - the earliest you can return to work legally after giving birth is 2 weeks, and you can take up to 52 weeks of parental leave in total. Speak with your line manager when you have an idea of how long you would like to take. You are free to change your mind while on parental leave, as long as 8 weeks notice is given for an intended change to your return date.

You may wish to consider a phased return when you do come back and this can also be discussed with your line manager. If for some reason you decide not to return to work, we do not expect you to pay back any of your parental leave.

Holiday accrual

All carers will continue to accrue holiday while they are on parental leave and any bank holidays that they miss will be added to their holiday entitlement when they return to work. They can choose to use this annual leave before or after their parental leave, or have some paid out during their parental leave.

Childcare Vouchers

The Government closed the Childcare Vouchers scheme to new entrants on 4th October 2018. This means we are no longer able to add new members to the voucher scheme with Busy Bees.

The government has introduced new ways to help parents with childcare costs which you access directly: https://www.gov.uk/get-tax-free-childcare

For more information, please speak to the People Manager.

Flexible working

We aim to offer flexibility for people looking for a part-time role or a role with flexible hours. Our policy is informed by the way we work and the way we charge clients for our time.

If you have an alternative working arrangement, you should make sure it’s reflected in your calendar so the rest of the team can be confident in knowing when you are and aren’t around.

Requesting a change of working arrangement

If you would like to discuss a change to your working pattern, first speak to your line manager. They will discuss your request, and look at the impact on the team and your work.

Any changes to working patterns are agreed at our discretion and your line manager should review them with you from time to time, to check they are still working for you and dxw.

Once you would like to progress with a new flexible working pattern, please fill in the change of working pattern request form and the HR team will make the necessary changes.

Normal working pattern

The normal working pattern is 5 days per week, Monday to Friday, and 7 hours per day (excluding a break for lunch).

Part time working
Weekly or fortnightly working patterns

We’re happy to talk about a 3 or 4 day week, a 9 day fortnight, or a shorter working day, where it makes sense for your role. This will depend on the nature of your role, client, and dxw needs, and the impact on other team members.

Part time roles have their salary and holiday allowances (including bank holidays) prorated.

For example, when working a 4 day week, the pro rata leave allowance will be 20 days per year of annual leave and 6.5 bank holiday days, giving a total leave allowance of 26.5 days.

Note that you must book bank holidays that don’t fall on a non-working day as annual leave in BreatheHR when following this working pattern.

Working patterns over longer periods

As an alternative to a working pattern that reduces your days or hours in a week, we’re happy to talk about working patterns that involve a regular number of weeks working full-time, followed by some full weeks off.

For example, you might work 4 weeks full-time and have your fifth week off, and repeat that on a 5 week cycle: 4 weeks on, 1 week off, 4 weeks on, 1 week off, etc. Alternatively, you might work during school term times, and take the school holidays off.

This pattern works by reducing your salary and borrowing from the pro rata holiday and bank holiday allowance, increasing your total time off but reducing your freely placed holiday allowance. Your annual free holiday allowance might vary year by year depending on how the weeks and bank holidays land in the year, so the pattern must have enough free holiday to cover the maximum number of days you would need off while still allowing you to take some ad hoc holidays throughout the year.

As a rough guide on how different patterns would impact your salary:

  • 7 weeks on, 1 week off: 90-95% FTE salary
  • 6 weeks on, 1 week off: 85-90% FTE salary
  • 5 weeks on, 1 week off: 85-90% FTE salary
  • 4 weeks on, 1 week off: 80-85% FTE salary
  • school term on, school holidays off: 70% FTE salary

We are happy to discuss the details and work out the best pattern for you.

Compressed hours

Working with compressed hours involves working your full hours in fewer days. For example, 35 hours in 4 days, from 09:30 to 18:45.

We are happy to discuss compressed hours for all roles but cannot guarantee this will always be an option. Arrangements must be sustainable for your wellbeing and productivity and the needs of the role.

For working patterns with an equal number of hours every day, holiday allowance will be prorated in the same way as for part-time roles. Working patterns with varied daily hours have annual leave prorated and calculated in hours (231 hours per year). You must book bank holidays that fall on working days as leave in BreatheHR.

Returners’ programme

We offer a returners’ programme for people who are returning to work after a prolonged break. As part of this, we’re able to offer a phased return to work. If this interests you, please talk to us when applying.

Remote working/location

We are able to work successfully in a remote capacity, from our homes. On occasions, it may be necessary to work from one of our office spaces, a client location or another location approved by dxw in order to complete a specific task. It is important that you remain contactable and productive.

Changing your working arrangement

If you would like to discuss a change to the standard working pattern, you can either speak to your line manager or the HR Manager. In this initial conversation, we will discuss your request, look at the impact on the team and your work, agree the best time for this arrangement to begin and how it will be communicated to those necessary.

If you have an alternative working arrangement, you should make sure it’s reflected in your calendar so the rest of the team can be confident in knowing when you are and aren’t around.


If you have a grievance about your employment or a complaint about another member of staff, talk to the Managing Director as soon as possible.

The first step is to discuss the problem to see if it can be quickly resolved.

If this discussion does not satisfactorily resolve the problem, you should put details of your grievance in writing and send it to the Managing Director. They will arrange a meeting to discuss the matter, at which you may be accompanied by a colleague or trade union official. Following this discussion the Managing Director will provide a written response.

If you disagree with this response or the matter remains unresolved, you may appeal by responding in writing. A further meeting will be arranged and the Managing Director will again respond in writing. This decision will be final.

Disciplinary procedure

If you do something that we feel constitutes misconduct, or your performance in your job has been poor, we’ll talk to you about it. Hopefully, there’s just been some misunderstanding, or some problem that’s easy to solve and won’t recur. Formal action will not be taken without careful investigation of the facts.

If we feel it’s appropriate, we may verbally warn you, explaining what has been unacceptable and what you need to do to improve your conduct or performance.

If your conduct or performance fails to improve following a verbal warning, or if the matter is serious enough that a verbal warning is not appropriate, we may hold a disciplinary meeting at which you may be accompanied or represented by a colleague or trade union official. Following this meeting, we may:

  • Conclude that no misconduct has taken place, or that there is no poor performance
  • Issue you with a written warning, which will explain:

    • The nature of the misconduct or poor performance
    • The change to your behaviour or performance that you need to make
    • The time within which the change needs to be made
    • The consequences of not making the change (for example, dismissal)
  • In cases of gross misconduct, dismiss you without notice

If you disagree with the outcome of this hearing, you may appeal against the decision. You must do this in writing. If you do so, your appeal and the circumstances of your case will be reviewed by a member of staff who has not been involved in your case before. That member of staff and the Managing Director will then meet to discuss your case, and will either uphold the outcome or schedule another disciplinary meeting. dxw’s decision following that meeting will be final.

Redundancy Policy

The coronavirus pandemic has caused us to look at some of our HR policies - or more pertinently, the lack of them. It comes at a time where we have grown as a company, but have not yet put in place all the policies and procedures that a larger organisation might need.

This policy is being put in place now, whilst we’re not facing any imminent need to make redundancies - in a classic “fix the roof whilst the sun is shining” way.

In putting it together, we have considered not just our legal obligations, but how best to go about doing a hard thing, in line with our dxw values.

Policy statement

We believe that continuity of employment and job security is important for staff wellbeing, and for delivering quality work to our clients. We work hard to keep our sales pipeline healthy. And we plan the future development of dxw carefully so we can hire the right people at the right time.

However, the future is never certain. Significant changes in our plans or in the markets we serve, could mean that we need to make a role redundant. If that happens, we will follow a fair and open process.

This section of the playbook sets out what we’ll do in those circumstances.

How roles are selected for redundancy

We will take an open, data-led approach in redundancy situations. We might, for example, find that we need to reduce our unbillable roles to keep profits at a sustainable level. Or that we need less people in a particular specialism if we experience a reduction in demand for that type of work.

If a group of people in very similar roles are involved in the redundancy situation, everyone in the pool will be treated as being at risk and there will be a selection process. We will publish the selection criteria at the time, which may include any or all of the following:

  • A performance assessment
  • Any disciplinary issues having previously arisen
  • Adaptability to a new role or way of working
  • Attendance record

The process we’ll follow if we need to make redundancies

The Directors group is responsible for determining any proposed course of action that involves redundancies. This will be documented, setting out the problem faced, the options considered, proposed solution, and a plan for implementation. To ensure this is a fair and robust process, it will be reviewed and agreed with the Advisory Board/Shareholders, before the following actions are taken:

1. Inform affected employees as soon as their jobs are at risk

We will organise a face-to-face meeting to tell you if your job is at risk of redundancy. As at the moment we all work remotely, we would organise this by slack/email, with the meeting held over video conference. If in the future we’re back in an office, we’d do this in person. We will follow up that meeting with a formal ‘at risk’ notification.

2. Consult staff affected about proposals for change

For staff at risk, with more than two years service, there is a formal legal consultation period, where we ask you to think about our proposals for change, and to talk to us if you have any thoughts/ideas about doing things differently.

The length of this consultation period will be no less than a week, but may well be longer, if for example there is a significant change affecting a number of colleagues.

There will be at least one consultation meeting with a Director, and with each person ‘at risk’. More meetings can be arranged if necessary. These meetings will consider any redeployment opportunities, or other possible measures to avoid redundancy. You would have the right to be accompanied by a work colleague or a Trade Union representative.

3. Inform & consult with the wider staff body

There is no legal obligation to consult with the wider staff body (unless there are more than 20 jobs at risk within a 90 day period), or with at-risk staff with less than two years service.

However, we would want to be more open than this; and in the interests of finding solutions, we would want to draw ideas from the widest group of people possible. So, once the people directly affected have been informed, we will publish a bikeshed, detailing the proposal for change, and asking for feedback.

An exception to this may arise if an individual role is affected, rather than a group, as it may cause more discomfort and anxiety by publishing a bikeshed.

4. Decision on proposal

Following consultation, final decisions on the proposal will be taken by the Directors. Full consideration will be given to anything arising through the consultation period before a final decision is made on the proposed changes, and the selection criteria to be used if there is a pool of roles affected. Feedback will be given to the member of staff whose role is at risk.

Where selection for redundancy is confirmed, the affected employee will be given written notice of termination in accordance with the terms of their contract. The letter will also confirm the right to appeal the decision.

5. Appeal

The affected staff members have the right to appeal against the decision to terminate their employment on the grounds of redundancy. The appeal should be made in writing within five working days of receipt of the decision letter, and should be addressed to the Managing Director.

Time off

Colleagues who have been given notice of redundancy have the right to take reasonable paid time off to seek other work. This could include registering with a recruitment agency or attending interviews. Arrangements should be made with their line manager.

Notice period

Your notice period is set out in your employment contract. In all cases the contractual notice period meets or exceeds the statutory notice period legally required.

Redundancy pay

dxw will pay statutory redundancy pay to any employee who meets the eligibility criteria. To be eligible, employees must have been continuously employed for two complete years, this is a legal requirement that we are unable to change. The amount of statutory redundancy pay is based on your age and length of service. Statutory redundancy pay is not subject to tax. Further details here on gov.uk .

Your final salary payment will comprise your normal salary during your notice period, and any unused holiday entitlement accrued up to your leaving date (these are both subject to tax and national insurance in the usual way), together with your statutory redundancy pay.

Supporting your development and wellbeing

Line managers

Line management at dxw is not about hierarchy, it’s about providing professional guidance and support.

Line managers ensure that team members are clear about their roles and responsibilities at dxw, and how well they are doing at achieving them.

Individuals should be proactive in taking responsibility for their own development, but line managers will provide advice and support to help team members meet their agreed short and long term goals.

HR support line managers with advice and guidance on recruitment, onboarding, probation, performance, sickness and any other specialist knowledge.

You can find out who your line manager is in BreatheHR on the summary section of your profile page.

Line management principles
Communicate clearly

Communication is a two-way process and it is important to check understanding and confidence, and value the other person in decision-making. Explaining the task and its objectives clearly means people know what’s expected of them and the part they play. It empowers them to take responsibility and own how they approach the work.

Recognise achievement and celebrate success

A simple ‘thank you’ shows someone that what they have done is appreciated, and is hugely motivating. Celebrating major, and minor, achievements is an important part of our culture at dxw. It builds team spirit and morale.

Guard our values

Lead by example. The actions and behaviours of line managers must always demonstrate our dxw values. We should always hold ourselves accountable to our values, and encourage the same in all of our colleagues, including those we line manage.

Continuous constructive feedback

Find out how each of your team members prefers to receive feedback, and develop an approach which reflects that. Ongoing positive and constructive feedback is essential if someone is to feel valued, learn from their experiences and become better at what they do.

Be honest

Being honest means telling the truth and being consistent in what you say and who you say it to. Telling things as they are, while being sensitive to the situation and individual, ensures that people know where they stand and will help to build mutual trust and respect.


Line managers look out for the health and wellbeing of the team. They are responsible for carrying out dxw’s duty of care to its people.

One-to-ones with your line manager


For your manager to help you with your personal and professional development, your wellbeing, and to build a trusting relationship between the two of you.


These meetings are about you; ideally you will feel happy driving the meeting. If you’re not confident doing this, or are unsure how best to approach it, your manager will help you to get there.

Agenda and topics

Coming to your 1:1s with a list of things you’d like to discuss will help you make the most of the time. Some things you might find productive to talk about include:

  • Your career and growth goals: Don’t assume your manager knows all your aspirations. Bring them up in your 1:1s. Your manager understands you won’t work for them forever and they want you to have a happy, fulfilling career — whatever that means to you. Tip: if you want to talk about your long-term goals but feel uneasy about it, ask your manager to do the same.
  • Team improvement: Have an idea that will help your team to work better? Use your manager as a sounding board to help you refine and implement your suggestion.
  • Self improvement: Got a specific thing you’d like some help, coaching or feedback on? A technical skill or a soft skill? Your 1:1 is the place to bring it up. Remember that you can use the 1:1s that fall between career progression reviews to discuss any of the proficiencies you’re currently trying to level up on.
  • Personal issues: Anything going on outside of work that’s affecting your wellbeing? Physical or mental illness, bereavement, family issues, stress? The more you can tell your manager, the more they can try to help, and make accommodations for you at work.
  • Interpersonal issues: Having problems with a coworker? Your manager can help mediate or coach you through how to deal with the issue.
  • Retrospection: If at any time you feel like your 1:1s aren’t particularly productive or helpful, or you’d like to change something about them, don’t hesitate to bring this up with your manager.

1:1s should happen at least once per fortnight. Where possible they’ll be face-to-face, either in the office or out for a walk, or a coffee. Where that’s not possible, remote is perfectly fine. There’ll always be a Google Meet link in the calendar invite.

If you need to reschedule your 1:1, let your manager know at the earliest opportunity.

Meeting length

An hour or so, at least once every two weeks, is a good standard to aim for. If you meet weekly, a little shorter is fine.

Additional resources

Here’s a template for helping to prepare for a 1:1, and making notes during it. Feel free to make a copy and alter it according to your own needs.

Here’s a great article on 7 ways to prepare for an effective one-on-one meeting with your manager.

People and HR Team

The People and HR team is here to support you during your time at dxw. We provide administrative, wellbeing, learning and development, line manager and professional support and guidance.

We have a CIPD Level 5 trained HR People Manager and an administrator to support the HR and Recruitment function - both of whom are Mental Health First Aid trained. We also have an independent HR advisor to provide additional support when needed.

We have a public slack channel for general non-sensitive questions, #help-hr-non-confidential, which is monitored by the team.

We also have a weekly Ask HR slot at 11am on Wednesdays, to provide a regular opportunity to get advice and support. The door is always open though, so you can also always book an ad-hoc slot with the HR People Manager to discuss matters you might not feel able to raise with others in your support path, or that are specialist to the HR function in dxw.

The list is not exhaustive but some topics might include:

  • Accessibility
  • Bereavement
  • Contractual matters
  • Diversity
  • Expenses
  • Facilitation/scheduling of conversations with Directors/heads-of
  • Grievance & disciplinary matters
  • Holiday
  • Inclusivity
  • Interpersonal issues
  • Mental health first aid
  • Occupational health issues
  • Pay (second line of support after line managers)
  • Parental leave
  • Probation
  • Pensions
  • Sickness
  • Stress management
  • Training and career progression
  • Working patterns/locations

Other support paths


When you join dxw you will be assigned a helper. This person will work closely with you for at least your first 4 months. They will do a similar job to you, help you meet members of the wider team, catch up with you on at least a 3/6/12 week basis to ensure you are receiving everything you need, and will NEVER get bored of your questions!

If you feel that you’re not getting as much time with your helper as you’d like, please speak to the People Manager.

As a helper, you will be vital in ensuring you have the regular catch ups - if you are finding it hard to schedule them, please do talk to Bus Ops.

For more information on being a helper, please see the checklist or speak to the People Manager.


Once you have passed your 4 month probation, we would like you to choose a buddy within the company to support you.

We recommend this person doesn’t work directly with you, someone in a different role and that you don’t work closely with on projects, as this will give you a second point of view and a whole new set of experiences to draw on.

This is not mandatory, just recommended and similarly not everyone may wish to be a buddy - don’t be afraid to ask or say no. It can be reciprocal but doesn’t have to be. Also, if you feel that a change of buddy would benefit you for whatever reason or that you’re no longer able to be a buddy, this should also not be an awkward situation. If you have any concerns, have a chat with the People Manager.

The buddy system is there to help us all improve, to make sure we’re doing the right kind of work and to check that we’re dealing with practical problems we’re facing. It’s not line management, so it’s not the right place to talk about holiday, salary, sickness, absence or anything disciplinary. If you need to talk about those things, talk to the People Manager.

If you want to know more about how the buddy system works, how often to meet and suggested discussion topics, see the buddy crib sheet. This shouldn’t be a huge time commitment, ideally just a pleasant Friday meet up.

Your delivery lead (for those on client work)

There will be opportunities within the delivery team to raise any issues or concerns you might have e.g. retrospectives or planning sessions. As well as this, or if you’d prefer to talk one on one, the delivery lead working on the project will be available to provide support and guidance.

Directors and heads-of

All members of the Directors and heads-of team are here to help answer any questions you might have. Your own Director and/or Head-of profession or location is there to provide support on matters relating to dxw and your career with us, as well as profession specific questions. Similarly, they are here if you need to escalate any job-related concerns.

Our Managing Director, Dave

At dxw, all doors are open if you need to raise a concern or just have a chat - this includes our MD. Dave is always available to discuss any questions you have about the company and its future. Equally, if you feel you need to escalate anything to him, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Dave’s diary is open and you can see it on Google Calendar. If you would like to schedule some time with him, please feel free to book something.

Learning and Development

Everybody at dxw gets a yearly learning and development allowance of £1,000 and up to 4 days.

Read the Learning and Development guide to find out more.

Read the line managers guide to learn about how to support Learning and Development for your team members.

Private Slack channels

We encourage everyone at dxw to be open about their identities and the challenges they experience at work, but sometimes we want to only talk to people whose experiences more closely resemble our own. To enable that, we have created a number of private channels:

  • #identity-lgbtqia-plus (contact a member of @identity-lgbtqia-plus-admins to join)
  • #identity-neurodiversity-everyone and #identity-neurodiversity-non-management (contact a member of @identity-neurodiversity-admins to join)
  • #identity-spoonies (contact a member of @identity-spoonies-admins to join)

Anyone can create a new one by creating the private channel, creating a user group with at least one volunteer (or asking a Slack admin to do it for you), and adding it to this list. It’s probably a good idea to share that you’ve created it in #general.

The membership of those channels is also private to protect those people, and members of a channel are expected to keep everything in those channels private.

We don’t police membership of these channels, and trust everyone to be honest about their identities. Don’t invite anyone without first asking them if they want to be invited.

Book purchase

If there is a book relevant to your work that you would like to read, make a request through the #help-purchasing slack channel and the Bus Ops team will buy it for the library.

Cycle to work scheme

dxw operates a cycle-to-work scheme, which may allow you to purchase a bicycle at reduced cost. If you would like to take this up, please register on the cycle scheme website

Eyecare vouchers

dxw provides eyecare for the team via a voucher system run by ASE Corporate Eyecare Ltd and Boots.

Details of what the wellbeing voucher offers can be found here: Eyecare for Wellbeing.

Apply for a wellbeing eyecare voucher

Home office equipment

Here’s a guide how we can support your home working environment. We can also provide a DSE assessment if you need specialist advice.

Hiring new people


Making a plan for hiring

The hiring lead works with HR to create a plan for hiring using the hiring doc template. This includes planning for each stage of recruitment by doing the following;

  • set up the roles in Applied where we manage the hiring process
  • write our sifting and interview questions, and their review guides
  • work out who will be part of the hiring team and try to make sure that interview panels are diverse
Writing a job description

Before deciding to advertise a new job, we try to write an inclusive job description. The hiring lead will work with heads of professions, the hiring team, and the HR team to make sure that they’ve gathered what they need and to get feedback on it. We’ve written about our approach to job descriptions here on our blog.

We always include a salary band in the job description.

Once the hiring lead has a first draft they will put the job description through The Gender Decoder and make relevant changes before sharing with the Diversity and Inclusion group for a final review.

We then publish the job advert on our careers page.

Finding people

We sometimes find people through our networks, and share our jobs on Twitter and LinkedIn.

We also always advertise on specialist jobs boards as relevant. We have a budget to advertise roles and encourage hiring leads to think about how they could use this to attract more diverse applicants. We use the following job boards:

We typically don’t use recruiters.

We always welcome general applications if there’s not an open vacancy.

Reviewing applications

The hiring lead and the hiring team review applications to decide who to take forward.

We check whether applicants might be able to carry out the job description, and decide whether to take them to the next stage.

We always inform candidates if they are not being taken to the next stage.

Sifting questions

All candidates are required to answer sifting questions as part of their application. These questions are written by the hiring team and are a chance for candidates to explain their skillset by answering role specific questions.


Interviews are an hour long with two members of the team. Candidates have a choice of Google Meet or Zoom as their platform to interview on.

dxw interviews are informal. They are a semi-structured conversation. We use competency-based questions, and look for answers that describe a candidate’s own experience.

Interviewers should take notes during the interview.

We include time in interviews for candidates to ask questions, whether about dxw, the role, or the process. We will always try to answer, but we will check things if we need to and get back to them.

Directly after an interview, the interviewers will add their notes to Applied without discussing the candidate first. Once all of the interviews are completed, the hiring team will meet to discuss who will progress to the next stage.

If a candidate is not being taken to the next stage, we will provide detailed feedback from the interview.

Simulating a work day [some roles only]

A simulated work day is a 2-3 hour activity based on a real world problem or task. We use this to make sure that a candidate is capable of taking on a role. We also find out about how a candidate approaches their work. It also gives the candidate the chance to meet more people they would be working with and to understand more about the role, how we work, and the expectations of the job itself.

The activity itself will be variable dependent on role - for technical roles, this might involve pairing with one of our developers, or for delivery roles, running a planning session for a team. The activity will always involve working in conjunction with someone in a similar role to the one the candidate is applying for.

We send candidates the task and an explanation at least 24 hours before the work day, so that they have a chance to read and understand the scope of the activity, to prepare anything they need to, or to pull out if they don’t feel like they are a good fit.

At the end of a work day, we ask the candidate to briefly and informally present their activity to a small group.

After all work days are completed, the hiring team will meet. For candidates who have not been successful, we will provide detailed feedback from the interview and work day.

Offering the job

When we are ready to offer a job, the HR manager will call and email the candidate with the details of the offer, including salary and a proposed start date. If the candidate accepts the offer, we start the onboarding process. If they have queries, the HR manager will discuss them with them and make adjustments where possible and appropriate.

Offers are subject to successfully completing eligibility to work in the UK checks and a background check including BPSS and BS7858. We need to do this vetting due to restrictions in our client contracts.

What to expect when joining dxw as an employee


After you’ve accepted a role at dxw a member of our HR team will be in touch with you to discuss your laptop, our vetting process and to answer any questions you may have. On your first day you will receive a welcome trello which will tell you who your line manager and helper are, things to read and welcome notes from the team.

What your first few days will look like

Below is a rough outline of what to expect from your first two days at dxw.

Day 1
  • Laptop & password set up (led by a tech team member)
  • Security chat, password chat & sign documents
  • Lunch / Zoom welcome
  • HR welcome chat with Passport & P45 check
  • Meet your manager 
Day 2
  • Helper welcome chat
  • Half-day of self-led training (including any help with software)
  • Employee led tasks from your Trello


New starters are subject to a probation period of 4 months with dxw having the option to extend by 2 months. Probationary periods go both ways, it is also a chance for a new employee to find their feet and dxws way of working. In your probation meeting your line manager will share feedback that they have gathered from those you have worked with closely.

Returners’ programme

dxw is proud to offer return to work opportunities for experienced hires who are looking to re-enter the workplace after an extended period of time away.

We’re running a pilot to begin with to see how this works for us and the people joining us. We’ll start by taking on one or two people for 3 to 6 months - depending on the role and circumstances. There’s potential to become a permanent member of the team at the end of the placement, but this isn’t guaranteed.

Initially this opportunity will only be offered within our London team, with a view to including our Leeds office as the team there grows.

Who supports you?

You will be supported by our people team from the point of application.

If you’re invited into our recruitment process, it will consist of a one hour interview followed by a collaborative activity with the team which will be sent to you 24 hours in advance so you have time to prepare.

The interview will be an informal, semi-structured conversation where there will be the opportunity for us to learn more about you and your experience and, just as importantly, for you to get a feel for what it’s like to work at dxw.

If you join us, you’ll be continuously supported by our people team, a line manager and a mentor within the same field. You‘ll have regular check ins with the team where you can speak openly about anything that’s on your mind.

Client facing role

For client-facing roles we’ll start billing your time back to the client when we feel the time is right. This will be something we discuss openly during the recruitment process and through your regular check ins.

Internal facing roles

We’re also offering internal facing roles, for example, in our busy commercial and marketing teams who also support our sister company, Tradecraft. These roles are not billed back to our clients.

If you think this might be for you, please apply through our jobs page.

Our professions


At dxw, we believe that great teams need great leaders.

Leadership principles

Whether or not they are in a formal management role, leaders at dxw are guided by these principles.

  1. Set an example

    Leaders at dxw demonstrate our values in everything we do. We set high standards of behaviour and inspire both colleagues and clients to do the same.

    We demonstrate fairness, integrity, and resilience, and build trust with our actions.

  2. Look after people

    Leaders at dxw promote the wellbeing of individuals, teams and communities. We encourage a supportive culture and inclusive working arrangements. We prioritise 1:1 time with people to listen and understand their particular needs.

    We support and defend colleagues in difficult situations. We identify and deal with poor performance and bad behaviour.

  3. Take ownership

    Leaders at dxw welcome responsibility and accountability. We’re proactive, pick up things that need doing without being asked and push to finish the job in hand.

    We’re the first to admit mistakes, apologise when wrong and learn for next time.

  4. Deliver for clients

    Leaders at dxw understand how to deliver value for each client and create the conditions for dxw to do brilliant work. We are not afraid to challenge clients or ask difficult questions.

    We think commercially and push dxw to grow and strengthen as a business.

  5. Provide clarity

    Leaders at dxw communicate clearly and concisely through the right channel. We question any decisions, goals or explanations that are vague or ambiguous and work to clarify them.

    We’re open, honest and straightforward in what we say and write. And we provide specific, understandable and useful feedback.

  6. Make good decisions

    Leaders at dxw use evidence and judgement to make good decisions. We know that timely decisions are important, so we don’t procrastinate or fudge. We commit to collective decisions, particularly when we originally disagreed.

    We consult broadly, seek out contrary opinions, and listen to quieter voices. We make sure we can explain our decisions, with context, rationale and evidence.

  7. Point the way

    Leaders at dxw share an inspiring vision for the future of dxw, and each individual’s part in it.

    On client and dxw projects, we make sure that colleagues understand the outcomes we want to achieve and the value that they will create.

  8. Build the future

    Leaders at dxw hire great people. We actively look for the widest range of candidates to strengthen our diversity.

    We encourage our colleagues to learn, develop new skills, and pursue their career aspirations, whether at dxw or elsewhere. And we give people opportunity and responsibility at the right pace for them.

    We continually improve dxw capability, and the effectiveness and efficiency of our delivery. We try out new approaches and technologies and give others the time and space to do the same.


We create the conditions and in-house capability our clients need to deliver and keep improving great services.

Strategy team principles

The strategy team apply these principles to our work.

  1. Bring people together to make the right decisions

    We facilitate activities to help organisations make good decisions, prioritise and create the momentum for change.

  2. Focus on impact and sustainable change

    We’re here to create significant long-term change. We won’t get involved if we don’t believe that’s possible.

  3. Question the brief

    Before starting delivery we interrogate the brief to make sure it is clear, realistic and provides the foundation for delivery teams to start work.

  4. Meet organisational goals as well as user needs

    We help organisations clarify their goals and set up the right measures to track performance and progress. So they can deliver better services for the people who need them.

  5. Use methods that work

    We use established methods where we can, or develop new ones where we need to.

  6. Create the conditions to deliver

    We set up teams to deliver and keep improving once we’re gone.

Delivery management

Delivery management principles

Delivery leads at dxw are guided by these principles.

Maintain diplomacy

We encourage calmness and patience, we ensure all voices are heard in a fair way and we’re always proactive to get stuff done.

Demonstrate leadership

We have the autonomy to lead and to say no, we’re responsible for empowering delivery teams to do great things and we coach others to get the best from them.

Show strength & resilience

We protect the team so they can focus, we remove blockers and distraction and we provide context and see the bigger picture.

Enable, empower & encourage

We create space for the team to deliver and individuals to thrive, we build up trust with the team, our clients and our stakeholders to support decision making and progress and we’re always supportive and demonstrate positivity, with a focus on delivery.

Prioritise learning & improving

We actively learn from what we do and take responsibility to ensure that learning feeds back into what we do next and we stand by our ability to facilitate communication and constructive conversation.

Product management

Product management principles

Product managers at dxw follow these principles.

  1. Set the destination, don’t chart the course

    Product managers help empower multidisciplinary teams by refining and articulating the problem the team is trying to solve, and the outcomes they‘re trying to produce.

    Communicating the vision and goals for a project through a clear and well-maintained roadmap is a core part of product management.

  2. Define and defend scope

    Getting agreement from everyone involved is crucial to successful delivery.

    Product managers should set the direction at the start of a project, and continue to articulate, communicate and defend the scope throughout, so that the team can focus on delivering.

  3. Convert insight into action

    User research helps inform our objectives, goals, and priorities by telling us more about the problems users are having with the current state, or the needs they have for something different.

    Product managers need to be able to balance user research insights with constraints like time, capacity, and strategic objectives to prioritise the next most important thing.

    Product managers help the team to work together, across disciplines, to identify potential solutions before choosing a way forward.

  4. Have a service mindset

    Product managers recognise that a digital product is often not the whole solution to a problem, and that the people operating a new service day to day are users too.

    We think about the processes and systems around a product, including how those might change.

  5. Communicate clearly how short term outcomes contribute to long term goals

    Product managers need to own and articulate a vision that is consistent and meaningful to everyone with an interest in the project, from the delivery team all the way through to the most senior stakeholders, and users.

  6. Be present, collaborative, and consistent

    Being available to the team to discuss the unexpected and share in the decision making is central to building empowered and protected teams.

    Product managers should regularly and actively communicate, review and defend our decisions - especially the unplanned or unexpected ones.

  7. Maintain a focus on outcomes

    In the midst of delivery, key dates can loom large, and teams can be diverted onto things which seem urgent but aren‘t important.

    Product managers must help teams and stakeholders remain focused on outcomes over outputs, facilitating discussion and making space for reflection.

  8. Lead without authority

    Product managers shouldn‘t be bottlenecks. Product managers and delivery leads work together to build skilled multidisciplinary teams and create the space in which those disciplines can do their best work.

    Product managers are open to new tools, techniques and approaches, working with teams to find what works.

  9. Take blame, give credit away

    Good product managers leave their ego at the door, taking negative feedback on board whilst ensuring the team are rightly recognised for their work and achievements.

    Being kind is more important than being right - it‘s a good rule of thumb to enter every conversation without assuming that you already know most, or best.

  10. Strong opinions, softly held

    Product managers make the best decisions based on the available information with confidence, staying open to the possibility that things could change when more information is available in the future.

    Product managers communicate the trade-offs they’re making and the rationale for their decisions so that teams can understand how a decision was reached, even when they don’t agree.

  11. Set clear priorities

    Product managers work with the team, stakeholders and users to define priorities, and ensure these are clear.

  12. Measure outcomes

    Product managers facilitate and work with service designers and business analysts to work out key metrics and goals for the product and work with the team to define roadmaps to achieve these goals.

Hat tip to Ross Ferguson for inspiring several of these principles.

User research

At dxw, we believe in making decisions based on evidenced user needs. As user researchers, we help multidisciplinary teams learn about users and recognise the value of user research. There is no single right way of doing this, but as a team, we need to stay unified in the way we approach, do, and talk about research.

User research principles

Our principles are not rules. They guide our work, keep us improving as a team, and working with, not for our clients.

  1. Help teams understand people

    Researchers at dxw help our teams build a deep understanding of the people who use our services. We know that‘s the best way to create public services that work well for the people who need them.

    We are facilitators, not gatekeepers. We actively involve our colleagues and clients in research. And openly share what we do, how we do it and why it‘s important.

  2. Find the truth. Tell the truth

    Researchers at dxw create strong evidence and reliable answers so our teams can act with confidence. We are bold and focus on what‘s most important.

    We know we can learn things that are unexpected and challenging. So we communicate clearly and sensitively to help everyone make the best decision.

    (Credit to the great Dana Chisnell and the United States Digital Service for this one)

  3. Take ethics seriously

    Researchers at dxw know that the safety and trust of participants is our responsibility. We think about the ethics of our research at every step. From how we recruit participants and get their informed consent, through how we store and use the data we collect, to how we share our findings.

  4. Be methodical, but not rigid

    Researchers at dxw know that the quality of our findings depends on the quality of our methods. We use tried and tested methods, and take time to reflect and continually improve our practice.

    But we also understand that context is important. So we use the best approach for the question at hand and adapt our ways of working to fit the client and the project.

  5. Learn, share and adapt

    Researchers at dxw work in an agile way. We do research and analysis in small batches so we can continuously share and adapt to what we learn.

  6. Make research inclusive

    Researchers at dxw know how important it is that public services work for all the people who need to use them. We help teams understand the needs of all their users, and do research activities that everyone can participate in.

  7. Build on existing evidence

    Researchers at dxw help clients build on the knowledge and data they already have. We combine existing knowledge, poorly understood data and new research into a coherent picture.

  8. Accept and admit constraints

    Researchers at dxw do the best research we can within the constraints we have. We acknowledge and share the limits of our research and our findings. And we advocate for more research when it‘s needed to achieve the project outcomes.

User research guidance

The Playbook includes detailed guidance on how we do user research at dxw.

The guide starts with the user research workflow, which describes the things that user researchers usually do on projects, and then provides further guidance and links to resources for specific topics.

User researcher professional development

We have a set of worksheets to help researchers with professional reflection and to inform learning and development plans. The tools cover our principles and workflow, and our most important methods and skills.


Design team principles

Designers at dxw follow these principles:

  1. Democratise the design process

    Take into account, and value highly, the input of others in the design process. While we are ultimately responsible for design in a delivery team, we don’t work in isolation.

  2. Value clarity in everything we do

    Use plain language in interfaces, writing and conversation.

  3. Overlap with other disciplines

    Work closely with people that have different skills to you, in the knowledge that different perspectives make our decisions stronger and elevate our work.

  4. Communicate constantly

    Never go missing. Our teammates always understand what we’re doing and why, because we’re all aiming for the same outcome.

  5. Know we are not the user

    Do not assume to know how users of our services think or act. We acknowledge that things such as genetics, upbringing, religious and geographical culture, and past experiences make us all different. We work closely with our user researchers to gain understanding and insight about the people that use the things we design. “One accurate measurement is worth more than a thousand expert opinions.” ~ Grace Hopper

  6. Be educators

    Know that being open about our work, and helping others to understand our decisions and why we make them, benefits everybody.

  7. Be kind

    Be tolerant, understanding, empathetic and compassionate. Look for opportunities to help and care for others. Putting people at the centre of everything will help you be a better designer.

  8. Embrace questions

    Understand that when people ask questions and give feedback it is to make something better. If we can not articulate our decisions then we may not have made the best choice.

  9. Ask questions

    Always ask questions and seek the truth; when we understand the problem we can solve it. When things seem muddy take a step back and try and find the original intent or gaps in understanding. “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” ~ Albert Einstein

  10. Always assume the best intent

    We are passionate about what we do, but we are a team. When you have difficult conversations or feedback we should always assume that it is coming from a good place.

  11. Tell stories

    When we talk about our work and why we do what we do, do not just state the facts. Inject some humanity into it; turn it into a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.


Development team principles

  1. Solve real user needs

    Good code starts with understanding, and is rooted in the real world. We work in multi-disciplinary teams, but you’re not just there to churn out code. Get involved in the research and design. Understand the needs of the users and the constraints of the organisations we’re working with.

    Ultimately, it’s about the user and their needs, not about technology. Sometimes software is not the answer.

  2. Own your code, but collaborate

    Having the opportunity to see a piece of work through to completion is a great way to get stuff done, and for developers to grow. Take ownership of your work to get it all the way through our development process to being used by users.

    Ownership gets stuff done, but collaboration makes it better. So involve the rest of your team in your work: agree approaches, highlight tradeoffs and seek out reviews. Get all your code reviewed by another developer to help us ship better quality code, get the opportunity to learn new skills, and increase the shared knowledge of our products. Request feedback, ask questions and discuss code, but ultimately the author is responsible for making changes.

  3. Security is a user need

    Sometimes the simplest or easiest solution is not the most secure, and we fight for our user’s safety and security, even when a client doesn’t agree.

  4. Use simple, conventional technology

    By default, use straightforward technology and conventional approaches. The services we built have to be maintained and iterated on by small, and sometimes less experienced, teams. Keeping things simple ensures that is as painless as possible.

    Vary from convention only on the domain specific stuff, where it adds the most value.

  5. Build for quality and consistency

    Think about those who come after us. We build high quality systems with the lowest possible maintenance burden. We write tests, use linters, follow standards and conventions, and document our decisions. The things we build should be set to thrive after we leave.

    All code we write should be reviewed by at least one peer. This helps us ship safer and higher quality code.

  6. Improve with each iteration

    Always leave the codebase in a slightly better place than when you found it. Look for opportunities to refactor difficult code, to improve documentation, or to extract shared functionality.

  7. Communicate clearly and frequently

    Help our future selves and others by recording the reasons for our actions. Explain the changes you’re making to code through your commit messages and pull requests. Explain the decisions you’re making about technology through architecture decision records. Explain the tradeoffs you’re making in planning and show and tells.

    Use straightforward language, even when you’re dealing with complex technical issues. Prefer to write it down over speaking it out, to ensure a lasting record.

    Becoming stuck when solving problems for long periods of time can be frustrating and unproductive. We invite each other to ask for our help when these situations happen as a second point of view with a fresh perspective often unlocks a problem relatively quickly.

    Code written by teams sprinting on client work is represented in Trello (or similar) and when on support we use Zendesk tickets. Tracking our work help us to:

    • visualise our progress
    • document and share progress with clients and stakeholders
    • be confident what we should be working on
    • react to blockers and bottlenecks
    • see what each other is responsible for and opportunities to help or avoid duplicating effort
    • reference commits back to their original user needs
  8. Be humble, supportive and open minded

    Assume other people on your team know things you don’t. Feel comfortable saying “I don’t know”.

    Assume you know things other people on your team don’t, but be prepared to be wrong. Ask questions rather than giving instructions. Share your opinions and experience openly with your team.

    Question the obvious and test our assumptions. Listen to the client and the users and their experiences.

    Be non-judgemental – assume everyone did the best they could at the time, with what they knew and the resources available.

  9. Always learning. Always teaching

    Technology never stops, and the amount to know even for our limited stack is huge, so we must learn and share. We teach each other through peer mentoring, pairing and reviews.

    Share what you learn on a project with the whole team so we can reuse knowledge across projects. Encourage others in their learning.

    All code we write should be reviewed by at least one peer. This helps us learn new skills and build shared understanding.

  10. Do the smallest amount of good work

    We aspire to regularly ship good code, and deliver it to the users as often as possible. Delivering impact fast by shipping something real has a big impact on the morale of the team and happiness of our clients and users.

    Solving many problems at once can lead to large pull requests and large commits. This work tends to take a lot longer to understand, code review, amend and then ship safely. Additionally it can make work hard to parallelise as it may block other dependant work from starting. It also tends to introduce more bugs that require more follow-up fixes.

    Where you can, do less and deliver it sooner. Break down work into smaller pieces. Descope anything that isn’t critical for a first version. Do a minimum slice that works for some of your users. Anything to reduce the time between getting started on something and delivering it to users.

    Work at a pace that suits the project. Hacky is sometimes fine. If you’re working on prototypes then do only what you need to answer your questions. Sometimes, if you’re working on critical production systems, you’ll have to go slower. When that’s the case, it’s even more important to break down the work into the smallest reasonable chunks, to demonstrate progress, to make reviewing the changes as easy as possible, and to prove your assumptions.

  11. Work in the open

    Be open by default. Code should be public unless there’s a good reason otherwise. Changes to open source libraries should be contributed back to the project. Dashboards should be public wherever reasonable.

    The way we’re working should also be open to our clients. Work being done should be represented in Trello boards that everyone can see. Communication should be done in public Slack channels rather than direct messages. Openly communicating about our work allows clients to see how we’re doing, and what needs their attention, and gives everyone in the team context for the work being done and decisions being made.

Career progression for developers

We have a public progression framework describing the skills expected of each role across the technology team. Your progression doesn’t depend on having done everything in the framework for the new role but on demonstrating that you could do them if asked.

We track changes to the framework in the changelog, where we describe what changed and why we changed it. We keep track of any future changes we may want to make or think about in the backlog.

We have a documented promotion process based on that framework. We designed it to help make fair decisions about promotions that reduce the impact any one person can have on the decision as much as possible.

Technical Operations

Technical Operations team principles

  1. Learn don’t blame

    Things/Mistakes happen, treat it as a learning experience rather than finding blame.

  2. Documentation is the first step to automation

    For most tasks you need to understand it enough to document it before you can begin to automate it.

  3. Don’t be a keeper of secrets

    Everyone should be replaceable in respect to knowledge. It’s everyone’s responsibility to share what they know (eg. Pairing)

  4. No heroics - Don’t internalise problems

    Situations occur where there is pressure to deliver/maintain/fix, it’s a team effort, not always the same person’s job.

  5. Be patient

    Be helpful, not obstructive. It’s easy to get frustrated by things in time sensitive situations – don’t!

Commercial operations

We are the team that enables and encourages dxw to achieve its mission(s) and uphold its values.

Commercial operations team principles

Things we do:
  1. We deliver the dxw business plan. In particular, we recruit the best people to meet our mission, manage our finances to allow sustainable growth, and track performance of objectives to measure ourselves.
  2. We are the front door for staff and clients. We help, support and enable dxw to meet its mission and uphold its values. We do this by being empathetic and put people over process.
  3. As commercial experts we take the burden away from our delivery teams, and make sure our people, as well as our suppliers get paid, whilst also ensuring our clients pay us on time.
  4. The unit of delivery is always the team, so we ensure staff wellbeing by providing a safe and inclusive environment. We also support our people to thrive in all stages of their careers, ensuring they have chance to continually learn, as well as excellent facilities and the right tools to enable them to succeed in their careers.
  5. We ensure dxw is compliant with all the relevant company and employment regulations, ensuring we have ISO 27001 accreditation, abide by GDPR guidelines and insurance.
  6. Commercial and business operations can be thankless, but to manage expectations we remain resilient and take responsibility for our work by effectively communicating about what we do and why we do it.
  1. Empathetic to our users / staff / suppliers / clients.
  2. Support each other to support the team.
  3. Commercial accuracy and responsibility.
  4. We are balanced, organised and resilient.
  5. People over process, to maintain our unique, small-company, culture.
  6. We are proud of what we do and are confident enough to talk about it.
  7. We manage expectations by taking responsibility for our work and communicating what we do and why.
  8. We are the company values.

Sales and marketing

Sales and marketing team principles

The sales and marketing teams at dxw follow these principles:

  1. Start from solid foundations

    We work with potential and current clients to understand their needs and how we can deliver value - seeking out opportunities for mutual growth.

    We support our clients to make the right buying decisions, ensuring we focus on positive outcomes for users and making the most of the resources available.

    We work closely with our delivery team so we can be open with clients about who will be available to do the work and realistic delivery timescales.

  2. Build positive relationships

    We work in partnership with our clients, and are open and transparent at all times.

    We remain responsible and accountable to both our delivery teams and clients, ensuring that we represent them in the right way and can deliver on our commitments.

    We give our clients the opportunity and platform to talk openly about their experience of working with us. We listen to what they’re telling us - about what’s going well and what we need to do differently - and constantly work to improve things.

  3. Find the right work

    We welcome new opportunities, and actively seek input from the dxw team to help us decide whether an opportunity is ‘dxw shaped’.

    We consider the ethical implications of the work - does it help to create better digital public services that make people’s lives better?

    We will only take on work that’s a good fit for the team - that won’t put us under undue strain, where our team will be safe and we can have a positive relationship with our client.

  4. Show the work and the team

    We’re an active part of the digital and tech community that’s working to build better public services.

    We talk openly about what we’re doing and why, what we’re learning along the way and share our ideas and expertise. We blog all the time.

  5. Have a clear voice

    Whenever we communicate - online or face-to-face - we’re always clear, to the point, friendly, and professional. You can rely on us to say it like it is.

    We champion the things that matter to us and our clients. We’re bold and pragmatic and seek to influence change for the better in the way public services are created and delivered.

  6. Communicate with a purpose

    When we communicate, it’s to explain what we’re doing and the impact of our work so our clients and potential clients understand our areas of expertise and how we can help them.

    We’re open about our values and the way we work in dxw digital. We give our team members a voice because we’re proud of our diverse and inclusive culture.


Delegated authorities

Each year, the Trustees and the Exec Board agree a set of targets (and a floor) for turnover and profitability, based on the financial modelling of the business plan. The Exec Board are then responsible for delivering on that plan and report to the Trustees on progress each quarter.

The Exec Board is responsible for the day to day management of the business. The sections set out below describe how the financial aspects of that management are organised.

  1. Salary costs

    The Exec Board agrees the pay policy. Individual directors can set salaries within the policy. Should there be any need for an exception to the policy, this must be agreed by the Exec Board.

    Each client-facing director is responsible for delivering the target gross margin produced by their teams. They can hire (or if necessary, reduce headcount) for their area. Any proposal to reduce headcount by redundancy (rather than natural attrition) must be agreed at the Exec Board.

    Each central-services Director has provision made in the plan for their staffing costs. They can hire up to the level of that provision, as long as financial performance is on track. Any proposal to increase headcount beyond that cost envelope must be agreed by the Exec Board. Should financial performance mean that central costs need to be reduced, any plan to reduce headcount by redundancy must be agreed by the Exec Board.

  2. Other staff costs

    The Chief Operating Officer has lead responsibility for managing these costs. They can spend up to the provision made in the plan, subject to gross profit being on track. If gross profit is not on track, they must look to constrain these costs, such that the net profit ‘floor’ is achieved.

    The day to day management of these costs is achieved via various policies (travel, learning & development etc) set by the Chief Operating Officer and agreed at the Exec Board.

  3. Premises costs and professional fees

    The Chief Operating Officer has lead responsibility for managing these costs. They can spend up to the provision made in the plan, subject to gross profit being on track. If gross profit is not on track, they must look to constrain these costs, such that the net profit ‘floor’ is achieved.

  4. Marketing costs

    The Director of Communications has lead responsibility for managing these costs. They can spend up to the provision made in the plan, subject to gross profit being on track. If gross profit is not on track, it’s possible that additional expenditure may be needed, if there’s a reasonable expectation that it generates more turnover. This must be agreed at the Exec Board.

  5. Financing costs and taking on debt

    The Exec Board will agree financing strategy for any new material capital projects or acquisitions, with the Trustees.

    The Finance Director has lead responsibility for assessing these commitments and the overall liquidity of the business. This includes quantifying the level of fixed/floating rate risk taken on.

  6. Project resourcing decisions

    The way we resource our project teams has a significant impact on our gross profit margin. Using dxw payroll staff will usually be our preferred route, but sometimes we need to supplement project teams with dxw friends. Delivery Leads can agree dxw friends day rates as long as the gross margin generated exceeds 45%. If the proposed day rate would generate less than a 45% gross margin, the rate must be agreed with the relevant Director.

  7. Writing off un-billed time and/or giving service credits

    These both have a direct adverse impact on our margin, and must be agreed by a Director. Any write-offs or service credits are reported quarterly to the Exec Board.