With technology rapidly replacing long-held business practices the move to a remote office style has become popular, but it’s not for everyone. The nineteenth Managing an Agency Business (MAB19) event explored the pros and cons to the new distributed model, and how to tell if your company benefits more from having a localized team in one space or kicking the office rent for good.
Neil Quesnal with WhatArmy
- A small, 6 person team and fully remote office
Vicki Adjami with Communication via Design
- 20 year old company that has been functioning in a co-work, semi-distributed way for 5 years
Rob MacLeod with Neoscape
- A large, international, full-service company that functions almost exclusively with the traditional brick-and-mortar office model
- The push for remote comes from a wide variety of places. While Millennials might have been the initial champions employees across the board are seeing the benefits. That doesn’t mean it’s for everyone though.
- The biggest fear to being distributed seems to be whether or not [the team] can keep up with the same level of collaboration and brand identity.
- Will we lose business because people won’t like our working environment? Vicki and Neil both said becoming distributed hasn’t affected their ability to gain business at all.
Quote from Neil: “We find if people ask “Where’s your office?” it’s more often a question of where you’re based, not so they can come visit.”
- How do you handle accountability? As teams get larger this becomes a lot harder in a distributed model. Regular check-ins help to keep remote team members feeling like there is accountability.
- In a creative business some in-person collaboration may still need to occur, even if your team is mostly remote.
Quote from Vicki: “Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with the company’s values before we send [distributed team members] out to represent the company remotely.”
- Hiring can be tricky. How do you screen for people who will be good as remote workers if they’ve never done it before? Often times people won’t know if they are organized enough to be distributed until they try it. Giving a trial project to new employees can help determine if they will work well remote, or if they need to be in the office.
Quote from Rob: “Having brand ambassadors from the original company culture at your remote locations can help control the consistency of company brand.”
Tools mentioned and recommended at the event
Teams thinking about becoming distributed should check out the book “Performance Partnerships” by Robert Glaser.