Work from Anywhere
Jul 15, 2021
At 454 Creative, we were pleasantly surprised by how our transition to working outside the office allowed for both the well-being of our team members and increased productivity on behalf of our clients. After over a year into being a distributed workforce, we recognize the many benefits that come from working from home:
- Team members no longer have a commute to the office, which means a savings in both time spent on the road and money spent on gas. When team members spend less time spent commuting, they can spend more time with friends and family. (one team member reported gaining up to 10 hours back into their personal lives each week!)
- While the office has clear social and relational benefits to the staff, working out of the office provided an environment with less distractions for many of our team members. Working with less distractions meant increased consintration and productivity.
- Working from home also meant more flexibility to maintain a work/life balance. During work hours team members were also available to tend to household needs, which means those domestic tasks weren’t pushed to the margins of nights and weekends. School pick-ups, loads of laundry, meal prepping and other chores all became as much a part of the workday as a Zoom call.
- Team members reported feeling additional ownership and responsibility for their respective areas.
In addition to those team member benefits, there are also benefits to the organization, such as:
- Recruitment for new team members is no longer limited to a radius around our physical office.
- We can scale up and add new team members without needing to secure additional office space.
- We can invest less in physical spaces and more in team development and compensation.
Certainly, there are also drawbacks to a Work from Anywhere (WFA) arrangement. While there are many benefits, they are not without their costs as well.
- Underutilized office space means that money is spent on empty workstations.
- Additional efforts are needed to maintain social connections and interpersonal relationships.
- Additional communication is needed for simple questions that would have been answered in person by popping your head into someone's office.
- There is more opportunity for mission drift, isolation, and disconnection from a companies core values.
In light of those costs, here are FOUR behaviors that are needed sustain a WFA culture. These four things can promote a healthy team, contribute to the success of team health and ulitmately company growth.
- Shared Purpose – work together towards the same goals.
- Clear Expectations – clarity of what is expected of each team member.
- Robust Process - strong procedures to support team expectations.
- Thoughtful Communication – accurate and considerate connections with each other and our clients.
If we are going to be successful as a distributed team, there is one VERY important thing that will bind a team together. It’s not group coffee calls, it’s not company history, it’s not postive team morale … it’s shared purpose. It’s that we’re all working towards the same ends, the same wins, and the same measures of success. At 454 Creative, that purpose is this: We come alongside leaders of small and medium businesses, and non-profits with sales and digital marketing expertise and disciplined execution.
Once the purpose is clear, the next step is to define is expectations. Both what is required of each memeber of the team and what is required of the team as a whole. Two years ago we spent a time reviewing and updating job descriptions for all team members in order to bring clarity of expectations: what are my job duties? What outputs that are expected? What is required of me, so that everyone else can succeed?
But there are also expectations that we set as teams. What is expected of the Design Team or The Brand Strategy team? What is expected of Leadership, or an Internship? There are also expectations we can define for how we do things like manage. Sometimes, expectations are for things that are tangible and sometimes they are intangible like attitudes or mindsets.
The next thing that we focus on is having robust process. And by process I mean anything that ensures our expectations are met. For example, we leverage a project management platform called Asana, and numerous task and project templates. This helps make certain that the expectation of launching website is met because the process is thurough and keeps us from missng any critical components. Process allows everyone to know what part they must play and when a task must be completed.
Lastly, we’ve learned over the last year, working from anywhere means you have to be more intentional about communication. Whether that be in an email or in person, whether it’s on slack or a phone call, communication is paramount. Effective communication takes choosing the right communication method, communicating with the right mindset, all while reinforcing expectations and purpose.
These 4 principles are the pillars of our Work From Anywhere framework and have created a culture where our team and our clients can thrive, no matter where on the globe they might be.
Work from Anywhere by Chad Coltman