Apr 17, 2018

How We Decided to Go Remote in 2018

In 2018, Conveyor is taking a big step and joining the many companies who work “remote” or "officeless" as we deliver brand strategy and storytelling services. We’ve been considering this a while, and this is how we did it.

One of our core values at Conveyor is sustainability: which we define as taking care of yourself, the company and the planet. Also known as “people, planet, profit” — it means we work to help our team be healthy, to make the business healthy and to reduce our impact on the environment. Going remote helps us in all three areas.

When we started the company, our approach was to hire and build a team that can be productive and "work well from anywhere.” I had worked remotely for years before starting the company, and many of our team had been freelancers or independent consultants before as well.

But in the beginning, we had to get organized, and we started off renting a couple of desks inside the office of one of our clients. Once we grew to more than four desks, we realized we could spend the same money on our own office, with our name on the door and a private place to meet clients. It felt like the right move, so we found a great space and set up shop.

It was a lot of work and a lot of fun to create the Conveyor office. Clients loved how cool it was, but they rarely visited. Some clients never needed to visit — either asking us to come to them or never meeting in person at all.

With an office, you want people there to collaborate, as well. Now we had two ideals to combine: “working well from anywhere” and “working together.” Finding the balance was hard.  The value we placed on remote flexibility didn’t always work when we simply assumed we would see each other every day to collaborate in person.

And when people had real “crunch work” to do, some would actually escape to a coffee shop or go home to do it. Or they’d simply put on their headphones and crank, and we wouldn’t speak for hours, even though we could all see each other.

So we streamlined our workflows and communication as much as we could. We got disciplined about documenting conversations in Basecamp and files in Google Drive, so people could stay in the loop on even if they weren’t in the office. As we got better, it became easier for people to work from home, and many people did.

And then one day, people started noticing they were a bit more productive working from home altogether, away from the interruptions of the office. Some people came in early and left early, while others came in late and stayed into the evening. So we had space for everyone, but almost never everyone at the same time.

Add to this the time and hassle of commuting to and from the office — whether driving, biking or taking the bus — and we realized an unnecessary use of resources, as well. Commuting doesn’t make your work better or your life better. It’s just time, money and energy that doesn’t enrich your family or improve your work.

So when we looked at what matters — doing great work, communicating well and doing it efficiently (resource utilization), we had to admit that the office wasn’t a critical ingredient. We don’t make money or do great work by simply warming chairs or utilizing our office space.

Ultimately, what matters is that the team is happy and the clients are happy. The office didn’t seem to be making a difference to either group. Having it was a luxury, and maybe even an antiquity in today’s world.

So, when our old office lease ended, we decided to move out and go “remote.” The team loves it. They’re happy, communicating and just as productive as ever, maybe more. With all the systems we’ve developed over the past four years — combined with a great team of self-driven people — everything just works. And we’re working well from wherever we are, like the original vision.

Going remote has also meant we immediately started saving money on the cost of the office and expenses that went with it. Those savings help create operating reserves, fund team events and hire people, while making the company more financially sustainable.

I've always admired the simple confidence of companies who work remote. And the tools that enable it have gotten better. We’ve evolved from a weekly standup on Monday mornings to 3 mornings a week on Google Hangouts. Everybody videoconferences calls in, and it’s fun, efficient and focused.

So, this is the next step in our journey to make Conveyor an even more awesome company and team. As long as it works, we’re going to do it. Going remote feels like the next natural step, and in many aspects of business today, it seems like the future.

--

Looking for more marketing tips? Sign up for the Conveyor Newsletter at the bottom of our website.