In this episode Chelsea, James and Richard talk about adapting to remote working, hiring during a lockdown and what it’s like to join a team remotely.
Podcast Remote Working
In this episode, we’re going to be talking about remote working
I’m here with James and rich today. And we’re going to be chatting about remote working and just how much everything has changed this year.
I think remote working for everybody has been somewhat different within so marketing, we’ve we’ve chatted about it quite often, we raised about to the office, after all certain individuals dead. I really struggled because at the time of the first lockdown that was really my first session of remote work in iMac to the, to the home, the dining room room, that was my new office with my wife and a six year old, which was extremely tricky at times, it was it was really difficult to concentrate. Luckily, my wife works in a school, she was locked down with my son and she, she set up a little bit of a classroom and things but it was, it was quite tricky. I really, really, really found it hard along with another couple of people who work at so marked in a very similar situation. I know that James, for example, he probably wants to explain your situation. But you were the polar opposite. You were extremely productive.
Yeah, I mean, I think in the first lockdown, I find it really quite easy. And you know, apart from my mother in law living with us, which was challenging. And but yeah, a bit like you sat in the dining room. Yeah, everything sort of got forced into lots of these zoom meetings and all that kind of stuff. But interestingly, I mean, controversial view, since then we’ve kind of decided that actually being in the office is far more productive than being a home or working remotely. So what we’re seeing really, and you see it all the time on LinkedIn, everyone talks about how amazing working from home is. But to be honest, when we’ve had everybody in the office, all the team have been so much better than working from home, just in terms of motivation, and you know, coming out the house going to work and going home again and switching off. And the work they’re doing in the day is far more productive. And so yeah, I think it’s fashionable at the moment to sort of say how amazing working from home is, and yeah, how it’s, it’s helped everybody. But I just I think it’s an unrealistic way to look at things really, I think for some people, it works really well. Some people that are in the mindset where they can concentrate at home, but for anybody with any kind of distractions or children or anything going on, I think it’s it’s almost a bit of a lie to say that everything’s perfect to do that. Obviously, the technology is there. Yeah, all that kind of stuff works fine. We adapted all of our online file systems into our meetings to be remote. That’s not a problem. And that’s actually been a good thing that was now in place for future and we use now a combination of that and in person. But in the overall scheme of things. Yeah, having people in the office is the best environment for us as an agency. And we’re just finding that since we came back in August, I think it was, then yeah, the productivity level shot through the roof and really smashing through work. Whereas as sort of the latter part of July, yeah, two or three months into the first lockdown. I think everyone started to find it a bit grating really there. No human communication side of things.
Everybody spends a lot of time together here. We’re like a small family and they couldn’t wait to get back to the office. We’ve communicated with quite a few other agencies that we work with. And now the polar opposite some of our most stonewalled, some have given up their lease the stuff and our full time at home remotely, permanently, I don’t know how it’s gonna go. We personally, we were still bricks and mortar. Our clients obviously not at this current situation. But so when we’re not in lockdown, we’ve got quite a COVID safe office, we’ve put a lot of time and effort into safety. And, and we were actively encouraging people to, to come here, especially members of staff, they know the score, we’ve got certain rules in place, and we’re quite strict. But even clients, they can’t wait to see people face to face again, and we can’t wait to see them again. Obviously, at this current moment, we’re in lockdown, too. And we’re having many video calls a day, every individual member of staff have kind of got used to the video calls now. So they’re quite efficient. But majority of clients that we chat to, they all want to they all want to come into the office they all want a place to to visit and vice versa. We can’t wait to visit our clients that we used to do on a regular basis to London, for example, it was great to get out the office change of scenery and to to catch up with clients face to face really, over dinner maybe bought from a remote working perspective. IRD not just it was quite a steep curve, really. So we went to remote working quite quickly. And I personally dealt with the file management side of things. And we were although in the cloud, it wasn’t as efficient was easy to access on a slower broadband as you can imagine. So I spent probably seven solid days trying to just get made sure everything that we’ve got for clients was in the cloud was secure and was backed up also, everybody at home, we’re spending that time trying to sync up with the systems and getting everything polished and working correctly. And finding the right solution as well. Previously, we’ve used Dropbox to do this. Back in the day didn’t work. We’ve used box that didn’t work, we’ve used, COBie, that didn’t work. So with the sheer volume and file size that we operate as an agency, and I’d say we’re quite a small agency, compared to some of the larger agencies out there, we just struggled to find a solution. So we’ve always used a kind of custom made server to do this in the office. And then that’s always been pushed remotely to the cloud. But we’ve always worked remotely with the files within the studio. And within the, within the building. When it comes to working with files in the cloud continually, and not necessarily on a server in the office, it was it was somewhat different. And we’ve settled on a good solution now that Touchwood is all working really well. But there was a seven day period of lockdown one where it was quite stressful, and myself and James worked on it pretty much constantly to get it all working properly. And then everybody else got back up to speed and found found it quite good. So that’s how we currently work now. So whether that staff member is at home, on a laptop, or whether we’re in the office, we’re working on the same files, and the files are always in the cloud. So that’s why we works where we operate as where we’d be. We’ve kind of got used to working there from there from a virtual working perspective. So it makes sense for the files to be there also, and also for clients. It’s safe, secure, and constantly backed up. So
yeah, I think definitely process has changed a lot. And I think it’s hard as well going from an office to being completely work from home and having to adapt to all of that. I I can’t really say too much, because I wasn’t with you guys before all of this. And I also didn’t really have that. That traditional kind of like working from home getting used to it, because I spent around kind of four months on furlough. So I think I think I escaped that one quite well,
you you join the team during lockdown. So that was that was unique remote interviews with ourselves with the team and they’re joining remotely. So a lot of people scaled down, we scaled up through lockdown did really well out of it. And it was nice to get to know you virtually, we had to wait some time to come into the office to meet everybody and to sit at a desk really? How did you find that?
Um, honestly, and I think the whole kind of lockdown situation hit me quite hard anyway, with kind of, I only found like that I was only just starting to find my feet and really like hit the ground running in my previous role like really getting to grips with like marketing. And because that was my first marketing role really before then. And then having having this kind of like period where I was like out of that for four months, I was very conscious of not wanting to not wanting to kind of like lose what I’d learnt. So it was kind of key for me to think well for my own personal development. And because I’m quite young, still, I want to be productive, I want to be working where I can learn a lot. And I found joining a team remotely during the whole kind of like recruitment process virtually. I found it quite tough because I think for me, one thing that is really key is I like to know about the culture of the place I’m joining, especially because marketing is quite a creative background as well. I wanted to I really wanted to fresh Tessar leaving a role that I already had to come to a different agency and work with you guys. I wanted to make sure that it was the right decision. And I wanted to make sure that the culture was right for me, which is something that you can’t really do virtually. And
then that’s why we tailor made the whole process as well. So you had an interview process, which was somewhat different to a normal interview process. So as well as myself and James chatting to you to get to know you. We also three in the deep end in front of the whole team on a zoom call, which is pretty crazy. But it gives you an understanding of who we are. They could ask the questions, you could ask the questions without what’s been on the call. And we thought that was important to get to notice. know somebody know the team? Really, I think that’s quite hard. I think that’s easier face to face to get to know somebody, or it’s the next best thing was a zoom call. So that’s why we did it.
Yeah, definitely. I think the way that you guys actually set up the interview process, so that initial meeting with them, you and James, where you kind of like asked me questions about myself. I don’t think it was a traditional interview. And I think kind of got to the end of the interview. And I think one of you said that you’d not actually asked me any questions that you’d had written down. I found that quite funny. And then the task as well. So to kind of see the sort of work that you wanted me to work on and I completely get why you did it from a recruitment process because I used to work in recruitment. And making sure that obviously I was at the level you needed, but also for me from my point of view, I was like okay, well, if this is what they’re asking me to Do This is probably what the job is gonna look like. And if I enjoy doing the task, then I’ll enjoy doing the role. And I really enjoyed it. And I put quite a lot of effort into the task and then getting to meet the team, I was actually more nervous about meeting the team than I was you guys.
There’s more people, there was no such thing. Yeah, it’s like you don’t know what they’re going to ask. It’s a bit of a, it’s not a situation that anyone’s really done before an interview process. And to is an idea that I actually have another agency, who I was just talking to, and they said that they always get their new hires to meet the team, independently of the owners, before they move them forward in the process to make sure that they’re, they’re the sort of people and they get on, and it’s for both parties as well, because it’s important that you know, it’s a good fit for you, as well as good fit for us. And so it was interesting to test it out during lockdown on you, I’m afraid.
No, to be fair, that’s the only time really, that I got to meet members of the team before, kind of as a collective, before I actually like kind of joined up and signed to do a role. And the only process I can think of that I had to do that in the past was for a massive multinational recruitment company. And obviously, like their recruitment processes, because they do it as a profession, are going to be kind of like next level, to actually get that as part of an agency and making sure that the culture is right, and I’m a good fit. And the team are also a good fit for me, is key. Because I mean, if you if you know me personally, like one of the things that I bang on about a lot is culture and how important it is for kind of just like getting to get into reach your goals, because one of the things that I believe is, culture beats talent, hands down for like making sure that you can achieve what it is that you want to
have. It’s a team around you as well. Yeah, James, everybody’s got everybody here has the same mindset. We’re like a small family, we work well together. And I think that you’ve got to fit the same as we’ve got to fit you. Our approach is somewhat different to other agencies. But we still get award winning work out of the door. And we enjoy everything that we do. And we work really hard as a team together. So I think that it’s key that you fit, doing that remotely via remote interview process, we thought was going to be quite tricky. But it turned out to be quite relaxed and casual, and everything flowed quite nicely, which was great. Obviously, from your point of view, it wasn’t necessarily down to So marketing choosing you, you needed to choose those as well. And I thought that was important was a big focus for you. You wanted to make sure that we fitted the exact thing that you wanted to do. And the people there were people you wanted to be with all day, every day in the office, really. So yeah, a good mindset.
And I think as well going into that. So one thing that I used to really enjoy him kind of like before I joined. So if you gave me a chance to work from home, I would work from home. And now actually, what I found really interesting is because of the people that I’m around them, because I love being here and the culture is great. As soon as I was able to work from this office, that is where I wanted to be, I wanted that. Yeah. And I think, obviously remote working like I do, because of how flexible we are as well at the moment and how I’m not really tied to the studio, because I’m not kind of bound by an actual desktop mark. What I’ve found myself doing now is chunking up like my workload, especially so if it’s kind of deep focus tasks, I’ll try and do them from home, if I don’t want any distractions, I don’t have kids or anything to kind of like, break up my thoughts. And so I try and like shut myself away, do as much work as I can. And then anything that’s foreign or creative, or kind of like meetings and stuff, I prefer to do them in the office because of the environment that I’m in. And that’s just how I’ve kind of like found my flow, especially working here in like a really unconventional time.
All things change and their second lockdown as well. We find ourselves working from the office distance really, really well distance and and not necessarily at home. Whereas before everybody ran home not knowing the situation. And now we’re all back in the office while majority are back in the office Sundering shifts on working remotely, but it’s kind of a hybrid at the minute. I don’t know if it’s gonna stay law or
Yeah, I mean, I think I can see it staying hybrid for a while and like you say, we are quite flexible. And I think you know, giving the key is giving people flexibility to how they want to work. You know, I think whilst most people do want to be in the office, there’s not there are days where it’s easy to work from home, or is just as fancy it for a little bit for a break. I think from our point of view, we’re just going to be very flexible and going forwards. But yeah, we have taken a conscious decision that will always retain our office premises, which gives us a bit of a USP in the market where many agencies of our size have all downscaled and gone virtual only. We are really looking forward to inviting more customers into our building again probably next year when the restrictions sort of further lift up everyone feels a bit more safe. But we’ll be here for the The future in a physical premises where people come and meet the team working on their projects. I don’t think you can rival that through any amount of zoom calls, to be honest. But yeah, I think going forward, yeah, we’ve got a good balance now with it. And we’ve learned a lot in terms of how our people react to the situation and what’s best for them. And I think with everyone’s agreement, we’re gonna stick to the way we’re doing it now, which is a nice hybrid situation.
Yeah, definitely. And I think with that as well, it’s, you got, you’ve just got to find what works for you. And we are lucky, really, that we’re in a really strong place to actually have them have the capacity really to have a lot of space in the office. Create a lot of studios. So for example, we’ve got the podcast studio here, we’ve got a really cool meeting space we’ve got we’ve got a lot of spare rooms, so everyone is able to find somewhere to work that is safe and secure for them.
Right. So yeah, if anybody ever wants to come down to see us at some point in the future, then drop us a message at Hello at so marketing.com