Remote working is quickly becoming the new normal for many industries, with plenty of organisations implementing some kind of permanent ‘working from home’ policy in the wake of the pandemic.
The creative industry, however, has been notoriously slow to adopt this as a permanent change. This is despite the numerous benefits that remote working can bring. So, if you’re part of a creative agency that wants to take the plunge, this post is here to help you. We’ll run through the different types of remote working you might want to adopt, the benefits, the drawbacks, and some key considerations for any agency that wants to effectively implement this innovative way of working.
What is remote working?
Simply put, remote working involves the employees of an organisation working from home, or another remote location of their choosing that is not the central office. This could either be full time, or on a part time basis where they also work from the office some of the time.
Remote working became very popular throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, but it is not a new concept. Plenty of different businesses have in the past adopted some form of remote working policy due to the numerous benefits it can bring for them and their employees- but we will discuss this in further detail later on.
The core types of remote working models
For creative agencies, there are three main models you’ll likely want to consider when it comes to remote working. These are:
No remote working
Just as it sounds, this model involves no remote working at all. In other words, all employees work from the office all of the time. This can foster a great company culture, lead to stronger communication, and make it easier to monitor employees. But, it can also lead to lower levels of employee satisfaction and limit hiring to one geographical location.
Hybrid remote working
This is becoming an evermore popular way of working among businesses across various sectors. Here, employees work remotely some of the time, whilst also spending some of their time in the office. Or, some employees may work in the office whilst others are remote full-time.
This tends to work particularly well for creative agencies as it still allows for a strong company culture, whilst also having benefits such as cost savings and increased employee satisfaction. However, it can have drawbacks such as remote employees struggling to access the same information and ease of communication with their in-person colleagues.
Fully remote working
Here, every employee of the organisation works remotely, all of the time. This is a good option for businesses who can do all of their work online, want to recruit people from across the world, or need 24 hour global staff coverage. However, it makes effective management more difficult, task cycles can become slower, and it is harder to create a shared company culture.
So, which is the best option for your creative agency? Truthfully, there is no right or wrong answer, and it will depend on what you want to get out of remote working for both your business and your employees. However, where remote working for creative agencies is concerned, the hybrid remote model is usually the most successful option.
What are the benefits of remote working for creative agencies?
It’s no wonder that more and more creative agencies are embracing remote working. It can bring so many benefits, including:
- Cost savings. It goes without saying that having to run less office space means a cost saving for your business. And, it can also offer a saving for employees who do not have to commute to the office as often, or at all. However, cost savings shouldn’t be the only motivation behind implementing a remote working policy, as implementation itself can incur quite a few expenses.
- Flexible hours. Remote working allows for greater freedom when it comes to flexible hours, which can help motivate your team both in and outside of work, and lead to greater job satisfaction.
- An international culture. Having a strong company culture is important for the vast majority of creative agencies. And, remote working gives you the opportunity to hire people from across the globe. This increases your potential talent pool and also fosters a more international culture with influences from around the world.
- Happier employees. It’s no secret that allowing some form of remote working often increases employee satisfaction. This can save your creative agency money in the long run, as happier employees means that you don’t have to undergo costly recruitment processes as often.
- Room for growth. Overall, the benefits of remote working come together to give an agency many of the things they need to thrive and grow. What growth looks like for you will depend on the size of your agency and the goals you wish to achieve. But, if you want to build a larger, more sustainable agency, remote working just might help you get there.
What are the drawbacks of remote working for creative agencies?
While remote working comes with many advantages, there are a few drawbacks too, such as:
- Remote working isn’t for everyone. Some people do prefer to work in an office environment. In these cases, they may not be happy with a permanent move to something different.
- Communication and the management of projects often becomes more difficult. This is especially true if you have remote employees working in different time zones.
- Isolation. It can be easier for employees to feel isolated, especially if they are working remotely full-time. These employees may also struggle to get the same level of support and opportunities compared to those who work in-office.
Five key considerations
If you have decided that some kind of remote working policy would be beneficial for your creative agency, it’s vital to ensure that you are fully prepared. Some of the key considerations you should take into account include:
A remote working transition plan
If you haven’t worked remotely before, it can be tricky to know where to start. So, before you attempt to implement your remote working policy, you should have a detailed remote translation plan in place. It should be bespoke to your agency, and outline everything that needs to happen for remote working success, and how this can be done.
This includes everything from the current number of employees in your company, who will be going remote, how much office space you have, the infrastructure you already have to accommodate remote working, and what you will need going forward.
You can either create this plan in-house, especially if you already have team members who are experts in remote working. Or, you can take on the support of an outside expert, who will be able to guide you to ensure that the plan is as comprehensive and useful as possible to aid a smooth transition.
Onboarding remote workers
Effective teamwork is vital for all creative agencies to run smoothly, especially if they are working remotely. The onboarding process is an important part of this. A good onboarding process can be the difference between a new team member feeling welcomed and happy in their role, and one who feels neglected and separate from the company culture.
Onboarding remote workers properly can be challenging. So, your remote working transition plan should outline how you intend to make onboarding a success. This includes who will be responsible for what.
Another key consideration when it comes to onboarding is giving your new hires enough time to get settled in. A basic guideline for this is one to two weeks,where minimal work should be assigned to the new employee so that they have enough time to get through the induction process properly without feeling overwhelmed.
All of your remote workers should have everything they need to work successfully and happily. This means that the business will need to invest- without any scrimping and saving! You may need to invest in everything from comfortable office chairs for home offices to space at a co-working facility for employees who cannot or prefer not to work from home. The key here is to listen to your team and their needs to ensure that you’re accommodating to everything they need.
Every creative agency should have good communication at its heart. In fact, it can be the difference between an agency that runs smoothly and one that struggles. However, remote working can make communication more challenging.
So, before you implement your remote working policy, you should have a plan in place for communication best practises, also ensuring that managers uphold these practices with all employees. Informal communication between team members should also be encouraged, to help them form positive relationships and reduce feelings of isolation.
However, it’s also a good idea to be aware of communication overload. For example, think before sending company-wide emails- is it really relevant to everyone? You may also want to consider only sending emails or messages within working hours, so remote employees, in particular, have the chance to truly switch off from work.
As this guide has previously touched upon, nurturing a strong company culture is a top priority for the vast majority of creative agencies. In fact, many are concerned that remote working will have an adverse effect on their culture. But, this doesn’t have to be the case. The key to ensuring your culture remains strong is to fully embrace each team member and what they can bring to the organisation. So, social onboarding for each team member should be a key priority, especially within their first month of joining you.
A good starting point for social onboarding is a welcome call with managers and the wider team as soon as possible, as well as encouraging regular informal chats that don’t always have to be about work! You should also collect onboarding feedback and use this as a valuable chance to identify the signs of burnout and improve your processes in the future.
In terms of wider company culture, many of the things that in-person employees take for granted aren’t possible with remote working. So, extra effort is involved in establishing a culture that everybody knows about. This can encompass everything from what language is spoken at work to expectations for taking time off. Whatever your culture and key values are, ensure that you are regularly communicating them to all employees and that remote workers have just as many opportunities to take part in and shape the culture as those who work in the office.
Remote working can be a great thing for many creative agencies, giving them more flexibility and the freedom to grow. The process of implementing remote working, however, can be challenging. After all, it’s important to get your policies and strategies right if you want to ensure the long-term success of your remote plans.
Working with an expert to get your agency up and running with an effective and efficient remote working strategy will give you the best chance of success the first time around. I will work with you to devise a completely bespoke package for your agency that suits your needs and supports you at every stage of the remote working implementation process. You can find out more about my remote working services by clicking here, or get in touch by clicking here.