“Remote working” – one of the buzz phrases of our decade. Some see it as the lazy millennial’s way to avoid “real” work, others see it as an innovative way to be more productive, efficient and deliver better quality work as a whole. Either way, as I write this article I’m remote working from the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank, overlooking the River Thames glistening in the morning sunlight. It’s a gorgeous day, I’m enjoying a great coffee and I’m surrounded by nervous-excited graduates, dressed up being admired by their proud families. It. Is. Buzzing. I am inspired.
Why am I here and not in an office like most other agencies? Because I chose to be. Why did I choose to be here? So I could get more work done.
I just don’t work nearly as well in an office as I do elsewhere, on my own terms. When I need to knuckle down and get shit done, this is what I do. I get out of the office, away from actual distractions and into an environment like this. Remote working works for me.
I once said to a former employer: “Hey, what if we gave everyone in the company the option to work remotely once a month?” and was shut down completely without any real rationale or reason. When I suggested the same to another employer I was told “we can’t trust them to actually do any work” this surprised me entirely.
I felt that if that was really the case then why did you hire these people? I wondered if the team would actually respect the employer more, and thus do more work, if they were given this option. Both times I had suggested the idea of remote working from a point of view to IMPROVE productivity for the business, not hinder it.
Sitting here now, I look around and see young people proudly taking selfies with their degrees and throwing their hats in the air for the perfect Boomerang (the social app, not the Aboriginal hunting implement) and thinking… how do these people want to work for their future employers? What do they demand for their lifestyle? How can I build my business to inspire them to deliver our clients more than the average agency?
There must be good reason why Shoreditch House looks more like a work space than a members club during the week, why WeWork, Spacious and Workshop Cafe are booming all over the world. Additionally, co-working spaces like Campfire have proven (to us at least) to go out of their way to help businesses like ours, with teams that you could go for a beer with after work.
We were one of the first companies to sign up for Spacious in Brooklyn, we’ve both witnessed it growing from strength to strength. There is a huge market for a flexible, affordable place to work, to share ideas and to drink coffee. Shouldn’t have to cost the equivalent of your rent in order to get this experience.
Even Slack the MSN style comms tool is so integral to companies around the world now – and both our Carluccio’s and Regal Rogue clients have rolled out Slack across their businesses thanks in part to our advice. Many businesses can struggle with closed minded perceptions of how things are done. But why can’t we go against the grain if the end result is better?
So far, YesMore Agency is only 13 months old (at the time of writing this). We helped grow results for 13 clients and we’ve had 10 staff work at YesMore – all without ever being in the same room. We’ve had our team working as they would in an office but on their own terms from London, New York, Ireland, California, Brighton, Hawaii, Scotland, Philadelphia, Amsterdam, Spain, Poland and more.
Dan, my business partner, lives in Brooklyn New York whilst I live in East London – we speak every day (and collaborate seamlessly) whilst only actually having worked in the same room for 9 working days so far in the business. We just don’t need to. In fact, we’re more productive when we don’t.
We’ve hired people with a work ethic like ours, we trust everyone to deliver on the promises they make and we all communicate instinctively. And when people don’t pull their weight you actually notice it more in the drop on deliverables, whilst in an office you can whittle hours away hiding hungover behind your screen.
As a result, all of our clients are happy. I believe that’s down to us and our team being allowed (encouraged even) to work in more productive environments. Above all else enabling us to continue being passionate and dedicated to both our work and our lives.
Dan and I are discussing how this will manifest itself in the future. We’ve got a good idea of our direction but will always have questions… Will we always allow our teams to work remotely? What problems could we encounter? What do our clients think? Do we tell our clients? Will people’s perceptions hold us back? What is the future of the service agency? Do people want to commute to an uninspiring environment? Can our team work from our client’s spaces for added creativity?
“Great ideas start out as polarising, they either really tug on someone’s emotions or they really perturb them in some way” – Joe Gebbia, Airbnb
When we talk about this way of working it’s already becoming very clear that some people LOVE it. At the same time some people think we’re idiots. Exciting. So re-listening to the How I Built This podcast interview with Joe Gebbia, founder of Airbnb, this morning I’m inspired to see what YOU think too.
What’s your point of view on building an agency around flexible and remote working?
Be brutal if you want, we’re thick skinned and love the challenge of both criticism and belief.
Thanks to Southbank Centre for the wifi and view of the river Thames. I’m now going downstairs for a quick skate and a sandwich in the sun before getting back onto work after lunch refreshed.
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