A little over a month ago, we implemented bi-weekly "town hall" style meetings at AdVision. Although we often attend social events together or meet up for happy hour beers, we’ve never had a platform for everyone to candidly and publicly speak their minds on what they feel is working in the agency, what’s not, and how we can improve as an organization. With a few of these sessions now under our belts, my only regret is not starting these meetings sooner. The feedback we’re receiving from the team is truly amazing, and I’m convinced these meetings are going to make us a more tight-knit, effective team going forward.
One recurring topic that has seemingly surfaced in each of the meetings to date has been the concept of working remotely. On the surface, the idea of paying someone full salary to work anywhere but the office we’ve leased or in the desk we’ve paid for is a bit off-putting. I can’t help but think, have we not created a great environment where people want to be? Do people not feel as though they can effectively do their jobs in this environment? I start to wonder if people here don’t like the office we’ve created or the people they work with, so much so that they’d rather be working at home, alone?
Fortunately, I don’t actually believe it’s our office environment (which is actually quite nice), or the people (we’re all pretty awesome), that drive the desire to work remotely. The reasoning to enable a workforce to work remotely lies in increasing convenience, having a knowledge-based workforce, using technology that connects, and in minimizing distractions.
By definition, when something is convenient it’s going to be easy to accomplish, it should require little to no effort, and it should be relatively stress free. Having someone mow your lawn is convenient. Pizza delivery is convenient. Avoiding early morning traffic, staying in from the snow storm, and being able to do your job from the comforts of your home is highly convenient. It can truly change your day or week.
2. Knowledge-based workforce.
AdVision is an inbound marketing agency. We provide digital marketing services for our clients. We need a laptop (Macbooks are provided), an internet connection, a phone, and our brains to do the work that’s required. People are hired by our agency because of their expertise in a given marketing field. We don’t have special machinery in the office that people need access to in order to do their jobs. AdVision work can literally happen just about anywhere.
3. Technology that connects.
Aside from the Macbooks we use to set up and manage our client marketing campaigns, we use a number of web applications to communicate and keep projects on the rails. From a communications perspective, we use Google Apps for Business and Slack. With G Suite (Gmail, Google Drive, and other Google apps), we can share and collaborate over email, but we can also collectively work on spreadsheets, Word docs or presentations in real time. Slack is something we use to quickly ask teams or individuals questions or to share something we’ve learned. It’s like text messaging for business—on steroids. We love it. We also use Mavenlink, a project management software to keep projects on track. We can log in anytime to see who has completed what, for which client, and when. We’d be lost without it.
4. Minimized Distractions.
I love having a full office. I love hearing the bustle of people on phone calls, and seeing meetings taking place. Sounding and looking busy makes me believe we’re getting shit done. But I know this isn’t always the case. A full office also brings drop-in meetings, unscheduled syncs, situations that need your eyes and ears, etc. Sometimes, these meetings are completely necessary, but sometimes these distractions can actually hinder productivity. Working remotely can put you in a frame of mind to do your best work, distraction-free.
When I started AdVision, I myself had the convenience of working remotely. I say "convenience," when the reality was the fact that I was one guy and I couldn’t afford a desk in a shared office, let alone a private office of my own. All I needed was my laptop, a strong Internet connection and a hot cup of coffee to get through the day. More times than not, I chose to work from home, versus the local coffee shop, because I had a great setup and this is where I found I was at my absolute best. Outside of the environment, I think it was my rather disciplined routine that helped me make working from home effective:
- Wake at a normal ‘weekday’ time. Each morning, I was up, showered, and dressed by 7am. I treated each day as if I was going to work.
- Dress accordingly. I didn’t wear slacks or a suit, that’d be ridiculous. I don’t wear those now. You’d never catch me in sweats either. I dressed then about the same as I dress now. Button-down shirt, jeans and loafers. It’s what I’m most comfortable in.
- Start each day no later than 8am. I had clients on the east coast and in the midwest. 8am Denver time was already inching towards mid-morning for those clients. I had to catch up.
- No distractions. I turned the TV off as soon as my workday began. I work best with music, so I always had iTunes on.
- Normal breaks. Lunch was always around 11:30 to noon, unless I had a client call. I had many working lunches. Sometimes I would sit outside and eat or catch up on SportsCenter.
- End the day. I would typically wrap things up at 5 or 5:30. I didn’t have kids then, so an evening run or trip to the gym would help clear the mind. No such luck these days. :)
As crazy as those days were for me, if I could grow an agency while working 100% remotely I think it’s totally reasonable to think this can work for the rest of the office today. I say it this way, because as of this blog post AdVision has no policy around working remotely. I’m sure this post will certainly pique the interest of those employees who take the time to read it.
Thanks to the Town Halls we implemented weeks ago, I now know how important having the ability to work remotely is to the office. For those of you in the office who read this, you’ll just have to wait until next week’s Q3 review to see what we have in store for you.
November 1, 2016