However, pandemic-enforced separation has provided an opportunity for profound re-evaluation; and the bedrock of resistance to remote working has been rapidly eroded by necessity. Almost everyone got legally frogmarched into an unfamiliar distance-working world, previously only inhabited by those ‘digital nomads’. Fortunately, a discreet infrastructure of collaboration technology, such as Zoom, Teams, Meet and Slack, was waiting in the shadows, ready to soften our fall and support the subsequent rise from the ashes.
Liven Creative is now unashamedly remote, and both our people and clients have benefitted; here’s why.
Geography doesn’t matter; people do
Gone are the days when your potential workforce had to live within commutable distance of your studio. Now we can pick the best person for the job, either on a permanent or freelance basis, wherever they are in the world. Our clients benefit from the continuity of an experienced, permanent agency leadership complemented by a roster of vetted experts. Clients don’t just get the current selection of employees, but the right person, in the right place at the right time.
Similarly, our clients are now a global diaspora. Our relationships are not based on location but shared experience, outlook, mindset or ambition – and are more enjoyable and productive because of it.
There are literally more hours in a day
You won’t find any leaves on the line during the commute between breakfast and our desks. We all used to spend around 2-3 hours a day travelling to and from work – often longer when the trains were troublesome. That is at least an extra day a week that we can devote to work or home life – and wherever we focus our attention, our clients benefit: a bit more thinking time; another discussion; a different approach considered; an extra proof-read; a reduction in familial distractions so we can focus during the workday. It also means fewer ‘lost hours’ for clients travelling to and from an agency for meetings or presentations.
While the call of the laundry or last night’s washing up might seem alluring, a daytime home is better for concentration than a busy office. After a distraction, like a friendly interruption to say it’s your turn to make the tea, it takes 23 minutes to return to a level of focus where deep, productive work can happen again. Fewer people in your immediate vicinity means more focus and less distraction – and no more arguments over what is playing on the studio sound system.
Happier people = better work
Stress inhibits creativity. Innovation and insight are low on your neurological priority list when your brain is thinking self-preservation is the order of the day. Seeing the world in new ways or imagining new and better futures is easier when you’re relaxed. That’s why so many people say great ideas don’t arrive at their desk, but when they are out for a walk or in the shower. Having greater control over your day, achieving a more equitable and fluid work/life balance, and being in surroundings that are personalised and comfortable all contribute to more contented and committed individuals.
We’re all in this together
Maybe it’s because we’ve all had to adjust to this new way of working at the same time? It could be that we all inhabit the same sized Zoom window. Perhaps it’s because behind each talking head is a glimpse into a personal space that wasn’t previously visible? But, for us, the playing field feels leveller. It’s less about ‘Client’ and ‘Agency’, or ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ and more about being part of the same team with a shared goal, “Together, it’s us against the world.”
You invest in the project, not the agency
With a remote agency, a lot of the usual costs have been removed: no rent, no office cleaning services, no concierge, no paid-for city-centre parking spaces. This means more of your budget gets devoted to a potent combination of experience, expertise, time and talent – all the things you need to help ensure a successful outcome.
It’s not perfect, but it works for us
There are undoubted issues to address. How do you recreate those moments where the energy in the room inspires a breakthrough? If you know that building and maintaining a great team requires both social interaction and professional collaboration, how do you bring that about? When are the opportunities for serendipitous water-cooler conversations? How do you combat isolation to make sure people feel supported and valued for their contribution?
It takes commitment and teamwork, as well as a flexible and agile can-do attitude. It takes radical honesty, where constructive criticism is shared freely but always in the service of the project, rather than to the detriment of the individual. People need to feel empowered but held accountable for their actions. Most importantly, communication needs to be clear and constant, with defined forums for group discussion and easy, unhindered access for individual conversation.