How do you have an agency with no studio?
by Emma Sexton.
1 May 2020.
When you say you have no office there is an assumption you have just started out, but being ‘remote-first’ has always been the main priority as I build my MYWW™. And my decision was not based on cost-saving.
Office rental prices are not that expensive if you really want to have an office. My decision has never been about the cost saving, but it has always been about having a business which I can operate from anywhere in the world – and so could anyone I hired.
Over seven years later no office it is the new normal for me and the team. I have definitely had to learn some lessons and test things out as I went, but our success has mainly come down to a mindset change.
Here are 3 things I have learnt along the way…
1) How do you create culture when you don’t have an office?
I think I get asked this at least 10 times a year! We are all used to thinking that having a funky office with some bean bags, a ping-pong table and free breakfast cereal creates a culture. That those values written on the wall will eventually enter our sub consciousness. Our culture is created by all of our interactions – digital and physical. We use the usual modern tech platforms (such as Slack) to interact with each other and our Creative Community. The team/business culture has to come from the business owner, so the values we have as agency are entirely my responsibility to live out everyday.
My key learning – Culture is a lived experience not a location.
2) How can you trust your team to get on with the work?
When you have no office you have no choice but to implement flexible working to the MAX! There is no option for ‘presentism’ here. I see my core team one day of the week face-to-face, the rest of our interactions are all digital. So how do I trust them to get the work done? Well, I just trust them 100%, from day one, without a single doubt in mind that they are going to do the job they have been hired for, to the quality and expectations we have at the agency. And then I sit back and relax – because it is now entirely up to them to erode that 100% trust all by themselves. Once someone does do that then they really need to find another job because we are not the right company for them.
My key learning – Trust isn’t earned, it is a given.
3) How do you know your team are getting the work done?
We are still a largely time based agency (I am still trying to reinvent that!) but my team are not required to clock a certain amount of hours per week. I am definitely interested in the time they are logging for the projects they are working on (I need to manage profitability) but I am not interested in them logging huge chunks of ‘admin’ time just to prove they have done a standard working week. We are weaving work into life over here so there is a huge motivation and benefit for the team to work efficiently. We don’t have hour meetings – we have 10 minute Zoom calls. Everyone is clear what needs to be done to deliver for clients and what is needed each quarter to move the business forward. This means we are rigorous with objective setting (Monday.com has been a game changer) and my team are motivated to get the work done, properly, and right first time – mainly so they can go and do something else with their lives instead!
My key learnings – Measure business objectives not time.
Got a question about remote working? Maybe we can help – email firstname.lastname@example.org
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