At Citizen Best, we use a remote company model and have team members from California to Thailand. As an Account Manager, I rely on excellent communication surrounding our projects. It’s the key to my success. So you might think that working remotely would complicate my job.
But it’s the exact opposite.
With a decentralized office, I find that my communication skills have improved, leading to better productivity as a whole. But that’s just the beginning of the benefits I have discovered both for myself and the team at large.
Benefit #1: Improved Communication
Without co-workers in the next cubicle, I’ve become more aware of the importance of touching base and how best to do it. Instead of just popping around the corner to ask my coworker a question, I know that I need to write them a Slack message or set up a video chat. So, either in the process of composing my message or planning the meeting, I refine my thoughts and questions. This leads to more effective communication all-around, time saved and better results.
Benefit #2: Better Time Management
We’ve all seen those mugs that say, “I survived a meeting that could have been an email,” and have been able to relate. At Citizen Best, we still have daily meetings that ground the team and outline the deliverables for the day, but without wasting the time to grab a bagel, find a seat in the conference room, or chat about the morning commute. Instead, we just click a link to Google Hangouts and within seconds we’re in a video conference. Meetings that used to take an hour are now done in less than 20 minutes. There’s still time to ask about each other’s weekends or a team member’s new pet (we love pets!), but getting down to business happens much quicker. I find it’s the right mix of human connection, friendliness and productivity.
Benefit #3: Increased Collaboration
Video conferencing doesn’t only allow us to save time, it also helps us share ideas and grow our team. Instead of making copies or sending attachments and digging through emails to be on the same page, we use screen sharing to brainstorm and make comments on work. This leads to everyone in the meeting making contributions and a higher level of collaboration. This is especially exciting when our team is all over the world. Since we don’t need to be in the same place, we’re able to expand our talent pool and tap into exceptional resources, like an outstanding writer in Portland, a rockstar designer in Costa Rica, and a stellar team in Bangkok. Not to mention, having a global team allows us to gather insights into local markets and inspires imaginative creative work.
Benefit #4: Happier Employees
This is probably the biggest benefit of being a decentralized office: each employee can find what works best for them. We have some team members who work together in one office; I work from home; others set up shop at a co-working space. Instead of conforming to one set office culture, we’ve been able to build our own unique one that is welcoming to everyone. And this shows in the work. We can still have quick slack chats about a project, personal development, and other agency business (bonus points for getting to use emojis 😀 in work conversations), but when we need to concentrate, we change our status to “do not disturb,” buckle down in our own personalized work environment, and know that we won’t be interrupted. The result is excellent work and happy team members.
Better for Everyone
Overall, I feel just as close to my team members as I did when I worked in an office—if not closer due to improved communication. I see that our remote office helps our work be original, inspired, and globally aware. And it lets everyone find their own version of an ideal work environment. Personally, for me the best part is not battling Los Angeles traffic. It means I’m ready to play with my son the moment I close my laptop.