How Duo Global Consulting is helping businesses thrive by codifying human behaviour

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Duo COO Sarah Callender on creating healthy workplace cultures and North East creativity…

The employer-employee dynamic has changed. With the pandemic still in the rearview mirror, businesses are forced to juggle the new needs of the people that once filled their offices on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the relationship between workers and their careers has evolved along with their expectations of what a modern workplace culture should look like. If only there was a middle-ground mediator that could help bridge this growing gap…

Enter Duo Global Consulting, the self-professed “experts in human behaviour” that help employers navigate this new landscape and attract the best creatives and clients. Based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Duo Global Consulting is a shining example of the disruptive potential emerging from this bright corner of the UK’s creative industries.

“We’ve been called White Witches, psychics and all kinds of stuff, it’s hilarious,” says Duo’s COO, Sarah Callender, discussing how the insight they offer has helped companies revolutionise their internal operations. “We’ve kind of codified human behaviour,” she adds, “I’m really passionate about people and business and when you match people with the right company, role and team, you give them the opportunity to perform at their best and ultimately drive up the productivity of the business. That’s what we’re here to do.”

The insight was phenomenal

A business advisor with a knack for helping creatives realise their goals, Callender worked alongside a variety of companies in the North East while its creative landscape was blooming. However, when the opportunity to take part in an intense training programme focusing on human behaviours and linguistics from an interaction-based point-of-view emerged, the opportunity to apply these skills in a business context changed everything.

“I fell in love with human behaviour,” she says of her experience gaining a deeper knowledge of why the work she was already delivering was proving so successful. “It was a massive lightbulb moment. All of this stuff that I had been good at, I now realised why and what was behind it.  The insight was phenomenal.”

Inspired, Callender decided to put this knowledge into action by teaming with Duo’s CEO Laura Weaving. “Laura was already working with some lovely businesses at the time and I thought why don’t I join rather than starting something new from scratch.” Cut to today and the pair are in the process of transforming their consultancy offer into a bespoke software-as-a-service product that teams can use to guide and refine the way they work.

Our data can inform all strategic decisions.

“The gap for us was to create a tool that businesses could use to take the guesswork out of reading their people and create great communications across teams,” explains Callender. “We can use it for recruitment, transition business, profiling businesses that are acquiring other businesses… this tool isn’t just a personal survey, it can pool data across a whole business that can then be used to feed into strategic decision making.”

By transitioning from primarily a consultancy offer to SAAS, Duo Global Consulting will soon give businesses the power to cultivate working environments that are optimised specifically towards the people they hire. Its potential is far-reaching; by better understanding human behaviour, Duo can help with all areas of workplace logistics.

“It’s influenced full recruitment strategies and helped fill gaps in teams by profiling high performers and helping to recruit more people with those patterns,” says Callender. “Businesses also utilise that information to look at how people in their teams are motivated because motivated people are going to perform better. It can be used in so many different ways,” she adds. “Our data can inform all strategic decisions.”

We’ve been doing this stuff for ages but now it’s on-trend.

It’s a topic that has only been heightened in the wake of COVID. With employees realising the benefits of hybrid working, employers have had to offer more incentives not only to return to the office but to invest emotionally in the overall company vision. Duo used this rocky pandemic period to transform their consultancy offering into a suite of online training programmes, a precursor to their overall productised goal. With post-COVID working now a pertinent topic of discussion, Callender and Weaving are well-placed to start dishing out their expert help.

“There’s been a lot of conversation around working conditions, flexibility, hybrid working and how people are motivated to work more productively. A lot of businesses are generalising their whole company,” she tells us, highlighting how a one-rule-fits-all approach rarely works. “All the research tells us that people are more purposefully driven and want to feel connected to the purpose of the company. Employees are making decisions based on what a company is offering them over pay. We’ve been looking at this stuff for ages but now it’s on-trend.”

Of course, in addition to their SAAS plans, offering practical consultancy will remain part of Duo’s vision for the future alongside a new practical planner inspired by behavioural insights. “It’s a gratitude journal, productivity planner and goal setter called Quarter By Quarter,” explains Callender of their latest physical release. “It’s got behaviours threaded through it and is based on lots of psychological and business theory. It’s non-tech but we wanted something that compliments our behavioural work.”

In the North East, you just get on with it.

While the team are busy navigating a transitional change, their long-term plan is to eventually scale into new territories and markets. It’s a goal that’s shared by our own North East Create Growth Programme, which offers regional businesses sustainable growth and investment support. Having been based in the region for years, Callender has seen first-hand just how nurturing the North East can be. “It’s a great place to start a business – there are so many economies of scale here,” she reasons. “It’s proven that it’s a great place for creative businesses and there’s room for more opportunity.”

There’s also a certain North-East mindset that has underpinned Duo’s work so far – and will continue to do so as it reaches new heights. “There’s a thing in the North East where you just get on with it – and that’s what we do,” smiles Callender. “We have a fantastic network and surround ourselves with really smart people who will challenge us. We’re a small team but we’re really nimble. Ultimately, our aim is to be positioned as behavioural expert leaders in this space.”