At the start of the year, we made the decision to become a full-time remote agency meaning that we packed up our office in Springfield and took the plunge with our staff who were now working across the country and elsewhere in the world, to make it happen for us. So far, the move to becoming a fully remote agency has massively paid off for us and we really are reaping the benefits of the move. Our teams are more productive, somewhat happier that they have the flexibility to work from an environment they are comfortable in and engaged in work and virtual activities we hold on a monthly basis.
With many planning to head back to the office very soon, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight why being remote works for us and why this also isn’t the definite end of us ever working in an office one day in the future again.
Heavily Re-Investing Into Our Staff
We all know that having an office comes with a price and that’s all a part of business, but Covid-19 really did bring that into greater perspective for us. Instead of spending however much on the office each month, we wanted to re-invest that money into our staff. This ‘initiative’ began at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020 and became only more apparent as our teams continued to work from their dining room tables, living room or bedroom.
There are several ways how we’ve re-invested said budget into our staff from further training opportunities with external experts (as well as our own), to sponsoring industry-leading events such as Brighton SEO to help get our name, as well as our staffs names, out there. We’ve also provided the teams with the option to speak at such events, paying for their, travel, accommodation and speaker slot to support their ambitions within the marketing industry. And that’s only a small handful of ways we’ve been doing more.
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Looking Out For Our Staff
We wanted to use this as an opportunity to drive some kind of change within the agency and so began by sending out care packages to our staff containing all kinds of goods and pick me ups to help guide them through the pandemic. We’ve sent everything from brainpower food, water bottles and branded pens and notepads, to facemasks and party poppers.
With so many virtual award ceremonies such as that for the European Search Award, Company Culture Awards and UK Search Awards, we’ve also sent out further goods in the post including pre-made cocktails and popcorn to make sure that even though we might not see each other face-to-face every day, we can still celebrate as one.
More recently, we have also introduced Sanctus to the agency and have our first official introduction with the team early next month. We know that the last 18-months have been tough and so wanted to make sure that we were able to continue to support our teams on both a personal and professional level.
Maintaining A Good Culture
We had an amazing office culture, but we knew that transitioning it online would present its own challenges. Before we went into complete lockdown, we made sure our teams understood how we were going to adapt for what we thought was initially going to be a two-week period. We took their input into careful consideration and constructed new ways to maintain our fun, productive environment in one we were having to adapt to.
As part of this, we introduced regular virtual team events that take place once a month. We’ve already done a virtual cocktail (and mocktail) making masterclass, escape room, horse racing and casino event with a couple more in the pipeline, too. As things start to get back to normal a bit more, we hope to host more in-person events such as get togethers and team lunches.
The biggest event we have on the horizon is Absolute Fest – aka our very own festival which will be compete with a beer tent, wood-fired pizza, candy floss, ice-cream, cider, a bucking bronco and Caricature person.
Offering Our Team Greater Flexibility
Since becoming a full-time remote agency, we’ve had the opportunity to offer our team greater flexibility than ever before. We’ve also had more time to think about the ways we can support our staffs lifestyles, providing us with the chance to weigh up the pros and cons of our move online.
Since becoming remote earlier this year, we’ve introduced new optional working hours for our staff to decide which they would prefer to week. Our “Absolute Early Birds” work 8am to 5pm and our “Absolute Owls” work 9am to 6pm, helping to provide a better balance for some. We’ve given our teams the freedom to work the hours that suit them and, outside of these hours, have made it clear to our teams that we do not expect them to respond to our messages or emails.
Maintaining a WLB
Moving on from my last point, it’s important that, as a full-time remote agency, we maintain a healthy work/life environment for our employees. We regularly reiterate to our staff that we do not want them to respond to us outside of their chosen working hours – not because they necessarily do, but because we want them to feel comfortable in the knowledge that there is no pressure to keep their notifications on.
The same applies when our teams go on leave or on holiday and make it clear from the get-go (whenever somebody new starts with us) that we would prefer them to enjoy their time off, forget about work for a little while and come back feeling refreshed.
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Whilst the move to becoming remote might not be for every business, agency or person out there, it a move that has been successful for us as we focus more on ever to become the best fully independent, full-service digital marketing agency in the UK. I have always said to “never say never” and the remove to becoming remote applies to that to, as does heading back to an office space one day in the future. But for now, we’ll continue to enjoy the remote office environment we have created.