This blog article was originally published on August 22, 2020 and is regularly updated for accuracy, comprehensiveness and timeliness, most recently on January 8, 2021. Underlined words indicate that the term is defined in our remote glossary, a handy and free dictionary of remote work terms.
It was more than 100 years ago that the eight-hour workday became a global labor standard. The concept of working in an office has its origins even earlier around the time of the Industrial Revolution.
Since then, many things have changed. Modern technology continues to transform almost every aspect of our work and daily lives.
Today, we can access infrastructures and tools that allow us to collaborate from anywhere in the world. Connecting, sharing ideas and resources and working together globally from the comfort of our preferred workspace has never been easier and cheaper.
Considering these technological advancements, is it still necessary to commute to brick-and-mortar offices for 40-hour workweeks with on-the-clock lunch breaks? Is it efficient? And most importantly, is it even morally acceptable—especially in times of rapidly rising rents, housing shortage, long commutes and historical environmental challenges? In other words,
Back in 2018, we reflected on these and other similar questions. After careful consideration, our answer was unanimous.
The common office-based nine-to-five work model can no longer satisfy the 24/7 nature of today’s work environments, especially in the media and digital marketing landscape. Due to the myriad of great remote work tools available, our physical presence in an office is no longer a prerequisite for doing great work.
We felt that it was our responsibility to challenge the status quo and find solutions that would use modern technology to shape a better and brighter future. Not just for our employees, our clients and our agency, but for our society and our planet at large.
Our journey so far has literally been life-changing and today, we want to take it to a new level: This is the first in a series of blog posts in which we aim to provide an in-depth look at our experience as a remote marketing agency and share our key findings with you.
We are convinced that a world with more distributed agencies and remote companies will be a more prosperous, more equitable and more sustainable one and we therefore hope to see this model adopted much more frequently in the coming years.
But it is not all rainbows and unicorns (yet) and there are very real challenges for remote agencies that need to be met, especially with fully remote and distributed teams.
It is only by sharing what works and what does not, talking to each other and learning from one another that we will eventually be able to transform the workplace and shape the future of work together.
In this article, we are going to
· provide a definition of what a remote agency is,
· cover five benefits from an employee’s perspective,
· consider five advantages from a client’s perspective,
· take a quick peek at how the agency benefits and
· conclude with an outlook on the future of work.
A remote agency has no physical office. With a fully distributed and global team, a remote agency can take on clients from anywhere in the world and leverage the benefits of remote work. These include access to a global talent pool, savings on real estate and a lower environmental impact.
Such companies without headquarters and centralized offices are also referred to as remote by default, all-remote, fully distributed, fully remote and remote-only.
The very concept of working remotely is nothing new to our species. Humans have lived this way for tens of thousands of years, we might just not have been aware of it.
A shepherd leading his sheep to good pastures and water, for example, often works remotely for days at a time. Or an ancient tribe of fishermen—with each of them on their own in a logboat until enough fish had been caught.
It would only be after meeting their quota that they would eventually get together in the village square to share their tales.
A geographically dispersed and completely remote team follows those same principles that have supported mankind for thousands of years. And yet, remote work as well as virtual teams are oftentimes still surrounded by a rather negative stigma. It is time to break down that wall.
Several years ago, we had a dream:
We dreamt of a world without commutes. A world where changing location (for personal reasons or even for leisure) would no longer mean resigning and looking for a new job. A world in which managers trust their employees without looking over their shoulders. A world where different locations, time zones and cultural backgrounds are not considered barriers, but leveraged for good.
For a few, that dream has already become a reality. And it seems that as time passes, it is becoming more real for all of us.
At the very heart of our decision to establish a completely remote design agency was a desire to give each one of our e-ployees full freedom over how, where and when they do their work—whether on another continent or in the middle of the night.
A study from August 2019 suggests that no less than 69% of the respondents are considering a flexible work option as one of the most important factors when evaluating a job prospect.
With more than one billion people worldwide confined to their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have only recently been reminded of the importance and significance of autonomy.
The rigid constraints of the traditional nine-to-five workday simply do not cater well for the dropping off and picking up of children from school every day. For looking after a sick relative. For taking the car to be serviced. And for the many night owls among us—those who might be much more creative and productive in the evening hours.
Not being tied to a specific physical location and schedule provides the flexibility to
Decades ago, a set schedule may have been practical, but it is no longer optimal today and keeps many people from achieving their full potential at work and at home.
Our REMOTE AGENCY therefore offers each of our e-ployees the freedom to work from anywhere and to organize their work around their lives—not the other way around.
No more relocating to a city with exorbitant rents. No more begging for a five-week-long holiday. No raised eyebrows if someone would like to go for a swim in the afternoon and work later in the evening (or on the weekend) instead.
When work is not bound by geographic location or time zones, the door suddenly opens to a much more fulfilling life and a host of new opportunities arise. Moving closer to family and friends or relocating to a city, state or country with a lower cost of living is no longer a matter of if—but when.
For location-independent workers, the digital nomad community and all those on workation, it is this geographic independence that makes their lifestyle possible in the first place. Complete autonomy to work whenever and wherever we want means a better future of work for all of us.
Finally, we have not even touched upon the global socio-economic impact of distributed companies, on the huge potential to close the gender gap and the life-changing possibilities in empowering people with disabilities and limited mobility to fully contribute to the workforce.
We call it the remote effect—and we are firmly convinced that remote work has the potential to become one of the world’s greatest equalizers. The positive impact it can have on a global level will be the subject of a future blog post.
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While the way we work is changing, the office may still feel like a big part of our identity for many of us. But no matter how much we love a central workplace, there is no denying that long office commutes pose a huge burden for individuals, employers, society and our environment.
Commuting is extremely time-consuming, expensive and a major source of stress—on a daily basis! In the United States, the average one-way commute time has been steadily rising year after year to now 27 minutes, according to the United States Census Bureau.
Commuting to work and back five days a week adds up to over 200 hours per year. That is almost nine days! Nearly one quarter of workers have already abandoned a job due to a lengthy and tiresome commute throughout their careers, according to this survey.
The trend towards remote work, home office and flexible workplaces in general is therefore all the more understandable. After all,
Working with a remote digital agency eliminates the daily round trip to the office and back entirely.
This way, all the extra time and energy that would have otherwise been spent commuting can now be invested in ourselves: Our families, our personal health, our social life, our career growth, side projects, exercising, reading, cooking, cleaning, meditating or even just getting a little more sleep. The list is long.
Some of our team members noted that their flexible work schedule has enabled them to volunteer with local non-profit organizations or to become more active in their communities in general. What could be more beautiful than helping our e-ployees live satisfying and meaningful lives?
Let us not forget the huge environmental impact of telecommuting: Less traffic on the roads will positively contribute to reduced congestion as well as to a lower carbon footprint and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In the end, we all win!
We have already mentioned the possibility of moving to a lower cost of living area of your choice. Cutting out the commute entirely will also result in savings on gas and/or public transport, whilst reducing wear and tear on cars and motorbikes.
But what is even more important and valuable is the wealth of time that a remote freelancer or employee can save in a remote work arrangement. Multiplying the 200 hours a year that will no longer be needed in commuting with an employee’s hourly rate yields a surprisingly high number. This represents the value that is saved year after year when working from home.
Becoming time-rich has never been more straightforward and more environmentally-friendly!
Research shows that employees are most productive and satisfied when they are given the freedom to be where they please and to organize their time in a way that suits them. Autonomy is the single most important factor for any remote worker.
In a traditional open plan office, we regularly experience some of the typical and all-too familiar distractions of everyday office life. These include friendly interruptions by co-workers, coffee breaks, background noise like phone conversations of colleagues, socializing or long and inefficient meetings.
Given that it takes an average of more than 23 minutes to recover from a single distraction, this kind of environment makes it highly difficult (if not impossible) to do deep work.
Our REMOTE AGENCY offers each e-ployee the freedom to design their optimum workspace. That is the environment in which they are able to do their best work—wherever that may be and whenever they are feeling most productive.
Removing the various distractions of a crowded co-located office whilst reaping the benefits of asynchronous communication, also known as async or async-first, empowers us to focus on a single task much better and get considerably more work done in a shorter period of time.
Balancing work and life has never been more critical. The beauty of a remote design agency without offices is that it empowers its teammates to design and optimize both their workspace as well as their personal schedule for their own well-being.
The possibility to work remotely allows us to pursue even the most ambitious career goals without sacrificing family and personal life.
It eliminates a lot of the frustrations and distractions related to long work commutes and traditional office environments. It gives our e-ployees more time to spend with the people and things they love. It provides them with the flexibility to decide when to start their work, when to take breaks and when to finish it.
Simply put, it enables them to live the life they love while doing their best work.
Many of our e-ployees appreciate being able to spend quality time with their family, to incorporate child care and school events in their schedules and to go to the dentist without the need to take a whole day off.
What is even more significant, most of them reported that they are leading healthier lifestyles, given that they enjoy lower stress levels and have more time to exercise and cook healthy meals.
This freedom and the aforementioned benefits of working in such a remote setting, be it from a home office or a co-working space, not only increase employee satisfaction, but they also result in a higher quality of life and a more balanced way to live and work. In short, they provide a better and healthier work-life balance.
All of this translates into a happier, more fulfilled, more engaged and more productive team that delivers the highest possible quality of work—which ultimately benefits our clients.
We are convinced that by equipping our remote teams with the flexibility to design their work around their lives, they will continue to help us exceed our clients’ expectations—and change the course of the world!
P.S. If you are on the hunt for a remote job, visit our jobs page now!
Truth be told, we initially considered keeping the distributed nature of our team a secret.
For a long time, there used to be a negative stigma around terms like hybrid team, VA, virtual company or virtual team.
Today, some of the fastest growing, most successful companies are implementing remote work policies and going remote by default—if they have not already done so. Both the demand for remote jobs as well as the number of remote job listings have skyrocketed over the past years.
What has once been associated with a stigma has now become a major competitive advantage.
Capitalizing on the benefits of a globally distributed team has been a complete game-changer for us. It is safe to say that we would not have been able to achieve the same growth and to deliver the same award-winning work to our clients in any other setting than as a fully remote creative agency.
Several years ago, we formulated a vision that would later become our mission: Providing our clients with a marketing experience that is truly and literally without borders. The only way to deliver on that promise was by working with the best of the best in their respective fields.
Such efforts inherently conflict with the challenges and limitations of recruiting locally—especially considering our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
Rather than looking for candidates that live within commuting distance of an agency’s office(s) or finding someone who is willing to relocate, the remote marketing agency model has empowered us to source our team members from across the globe—and to prioritize talent over location.
It has allowed us to tap into candidate pools that would otherwise have been inaccessible. It has provided us with a rich diversity of perspective and experience that has proven to be priceless for our clients time and time again. It has enabled us to produce truly extraordinary results. And it has ultimately made us a much more dynamic, open, respectful and inclusive agency.
Being a multicultural team from all around the world is a huge competitive advantage for our agency and a major benefit for our clients. It has made it possible for us to look at strategic challenges, concepts and ideas from many unique perspectives and points of view—and to provide creative solutions and marketing strategies that target and resonate with audiences and markets anywhere in the world.
We believe that diverse and multicultural teams often make better business decisions than their homogeneous counterparts. Our mission would still be nothing more than a vision if it wasn’t for our ability to attract, hire and retain the best and most diverse talent the world has to offer, regardless of their physical location.
There seems to be a growing societal expectation that everything and everyone is always and immediately available. This is especially true for the fast-paced world of digital marketing, advertising and social media.
And whilst more and more creative and media agencies seem to be responding to this trend, a remote digital agency is available around the clock by default—without overworking anyone!
Thanks to our distributed team that collaborates across borders and multiple time zones, we have the luxury of working 24 hours a day for our clients whenever necessary.
As our remote team members in Europe are finishing their workday, our e-ployees based in the United States are just beginning theirs. If a client reaches out when a remote worker on the West Coast is asleep, a team member in Asia will be online and happy to help.
By taking advantage of our global workforce’s different time zones, work within our REMOTE AGENCY can happen around the clock. This brings considerable advantages, such as being able to move faster, identify potential opportunities (and challenges) sooner, resolve issues earlier, address concerns as they come up and respond to emails in a timely manner.
On top of that, a distributed workforce has turned out to be highly beneficial in supporting multiple global markets.
Without anyone on our remote team working long hours, our 24/7 coverage and immediate responsiveness have oftentimes made all the difference—and enabled us to make the impossible possible for our clients.
In cases where even 24/7 workflows and availability are not enough, a remote media agency offers supreme flexibility. Delivering a marketing campaign for an upcoming product launch at short notice is a challenge of the past, as is delivering that very campaign to multiple markets and in a multitude of languages.
Thanks to our remote workforce, we are able to act with astonishing immediacy.
Expanding our team for a large project is possible in a matter of hours. Our team members are basically already available, set up and ready to go, so there is no delay due to notice periods and no need to wait for the new office desk or hardware and software to be delivered and installed.
Agility, for us, also means being able to give back and to support NGOs and NPOs on an international level in catalyzing real-world change and inspiring global action.
By saving on the costs traditionally associated with in-house agency teams, we are able to not only invest more in each e-ployee and our annual retreat, but also to work with non-governmental and non-profit organizations with minimal budgets, especially in times of international conflict and during humanitarian and ecological crises.
By helping charities and social impact organizations tell their stories in the most compelling way, we contribute to a better world for all of us to live in—and to pass on to our children and grandchildren.
As an international team that spans multiple time zones, we fundamentally value each other’s schedules—and we are even more sensitive to our clients’ time and how it is used!
We will never expect anyone to commute to a physical location for a meeting that could be held as a video conference or conference call in a faster, smoother and more efficient way. We will also never ask our clients to fly cross-country and lose half a day or more to brainstorm an idea in a fancy agency meeting room.
After all, we are the agency without offices.
Instead, our clients and partners enjoy the luxury of working right up to the time of a call or brainstorming and then to simply dial in right from their desk.
By taking advantage of time-tested, highly efficient workflows and leveraging modern technology, we are able to achieve at least the same (if not much better) results than with conventional meetings—all while respecting everyone’s resources and dramatically reducing our environmental imprint.
We will be covering the remarkable impact of a remote business and a distributed workforce on our environment in every detail in a future article.
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In the twenty-first century, geographic proximity is no longer a precondition of successful communication. Some of our clients shared that they have felt more connected to our remote team than they ever had in previous settings. This has been an incredible compliment to us which only emphasizes the many positive effects of an efficient and completely distributed team on client satisfaction.
Things change in life. Sometimes at very short notice. The ability for remote workers to move to a location of their choice anywhere in the world without switching jobs is a major advantage that has benefited our clients in various ways.
Gone is the need to find a qualified replacement and to transfer the client relationship as it would be the case in a traditional agency setting. Instead, the employee moving can continue to work on the same client project, which eliminates interruptions and maximizes efficiency and output.
This is flexible working in its truest sense. And it is this flexibility that has empowered us to provide our clients with the best possible service and overall experience, from a project’s conception all the way through to its completion.
Apart from that, an extensive Stanford University study shows a 50% decrease in attrition among employees that work from home. This comes as no big surprise, given that mutual trust and respect are some of the key components of every successful team. It is only human nature to repay trust with loyalty.
Within our REMOTE AGENCY, we have a retention rate of currently 100%, which fundamentally benefits our clients in the long-term.
Another trend that we have been observing is that some of today’s biggest talents are already demanding remote work as a condition of employment. What is currently still an incentive or perk for many will very soon become a prerequisite.
Any design, branding or marketing agency that does not provide such an option will no longer be able to attract and hire the best candidates in the near future. It might even lose its most talented employees to competitors.
A remote digital agency, on the other hand, is able to offer highly competitive packages and attract the best global talent—and, with that, pave the way for international expansion. In terms of efficiency, flexibility, profitability and talent acquisition, a distributed agency is far more future-proof than any office-based advertising agency.
And by decoupling the actual work from any particular physical location, the potential impact of regional instabilities and conflicts, natural disasters and even global pandemics on a project is dramatically lessened when working with a fully distributed team.
By taking advantage of these substantial competitive advantages, our clients are benefiting from the highest levels of efficiency, flexibility and work quality—today and in a future that will continue to change very rapidly.
Establishing a remote advertising agency was once a radical and revolutionary idea, but we are convinced that many more media and digital marketing agencies will be born in the cloud over the next months and years.
Even going remote by default with an already established digital marketing agency or shifting to a remote-first or, for the beginning, maybe even just a remote-friendly model will become more and more popular options.
Whilst we have covered many of the advantages of working with a distributed team already in earlier parts of this article, we found the following five benefits to be the most crucial and important ones for our REMOTE AGENCY:
· Unlocking access to the best talent, regardless of their location
· Producing high quality results thanks to a more productive team
· Minimizing attrition rates and sick days due to happy e-ployees
· Reducing overhead costs and increasing operational efficiency
· Saving resources, reducing emissions and preserving our planet
We may be spread across the globe, but we are all united by one goal. Our team lives and thrives by those eight words that are at the very heart of who we are and what we do:
Without our distributed team and the framework of our agency without offices, those words would be meaningless.
It is only through our ability to collaborate as a global team and regardless of our physical location, gender, cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, political views and sexual orientations that we are able to create award-winning work and outstanding results.
For us, remote work is in our DNA and we are convinced that it is the future, as it delivers extraordinary benefits to our e-ployees, to our clients, to our remote-based agency as well as to our environment. It is a win-win-win-win and has empowered us to be truly boundless!
At the beginning of this blog post, we touched upon our dream of a world without commutes and without geographic and cultural barriers. In only a few years and thanks to the best remote team in the world, this dream has already come true for our remote digital marketing agency. We live it every day.
And yet, plenty still needs to be done.
We strongly believe that remote companies and agencies hold the key to creating solutions that address many of the challenges facing our world today. It is our hope that our article(s) will help to foster the exchange of knowledge and the sharing of best practices so that we can learn from each other, benefit altogether and transform the world for the better.
Not long ago, we had a vivid dream:
We dreamt of a world where opportunity is equally distributed. A world in which geography is no longer a limitation. A world of new possibilities. A world without borders.
What is your experience running a remote marketing agency? What is stopping you from establishing one or shifting to a remote-first model? What challenges did you face working with a remote team or remote design agency? What other questions do you have? And what topic would you like to read about next?
Share your thoughts in the comments below and let us find solutions together—and improve the lives of as many people as we can!