Making a location-agnostic model work
Brendon Craigie, April 12, 2018
When everyone works remotely this can make for a uniquely close and collaborative work environment
It’s Friday at 4.30pm and we are sat around having a drink and cracking jokes. This is the Friday wind-down at Tyto before the weekend. The big difference is that we are not physically together. One of us is on a train, one of us is at an airport, another person is at a client’s office, and the rest of us are working from home. We are remote but not remote from each other.
Six months into life as a new location-agnostic PR agency for the tech world, I can categorically state that remote does not mean being culturally remote. I’ve never felt closer to my team. We call our model location-agnostic because we don’t mind where people work from. Some of us choose to work from home and others prefer to be in a co-working space. We have invested in a great IT setup so it doesn’t make a difference.
When you are among a minority working remotely and everyone else is in the office it doesn’t work very well despite the best intentions. For remote employees it can be difficult to get hold of people, you miss out on things, you get anxious colleagues wondering how hard you are working. And often your IT setup won’t be as good as in the office. For the people sat in the office you have to make sure not to forget those working remotely and make special allowances for them.
The enlightening thing for me is that when everyone is remote no-one feels remote. We have a level playing field and we probably communicate far better than we would in an office because it is so important to all of us. On a practical level we have all the normal internal meetings you have but via zoom. We don’t send internal email and use Slack for all our comms. And we have all the same water cooler type conversations in-between.
The other really big reason remote doesn’t mean feeling remote is because we see each other in person three or four times a week. The difference is we meet with a purpose and we don’t commute to one location just for the sake of occupying a desk and putting in face-time. As a result we meet our clients in person far more often than most of our competitors.
One of the areas people often ask about is creativity and how you foster this in a remote model. This is because people associate creativity with a group of people crowded in a room for a brainstorm. Although we didn’t design our creative sprint approach to idea generation around our location-agnostic model, they work very well together. We focus on getting a diverse set of perspectives on ideas (i.e. not being from the same postcode and background is a plus) and we task a team of five to seven individuals to think about a brief for 24 hours alone before presenting their idea back to a group on a video call.
We created Tyto and our location-agnostic model because we are driven by the idea of creating a PR agency that is more diverse, more creative and more productive than anything that preceded it. It has allowed us to recruit some incredible talent, not all of which can or want to commute long distances every day. We attract people with a lot of experience and who are extremely ambitious. This means there is a real intensity about the way we collaborate, challenge each other and learn from a vast pool of collective experience.
You always have moments of doubt when you do something new and untested. But we have surpassed all of our expectations. So whether you want to base yourself in London, Brighton, Paris or Amsterdam, in a location-agnostic model remote doesn’t need to mean feeling remote. In fact it can make for a uniquely close and collaborative work environment.
Brendon Craigie is managing partner at Tyto