Before I moved to London back in 2011, I was freelancing as a Social Media Consultant in Toronto for a fashion recruiter. He paid me about $500 (CAD) per week to post on his social media. I had a LinkedIn strategy. I created a Tumblr blog. I Tweeted. This gig helped me to stay focused, and ultimately move to London. All I had to do was go to his home office once per week for a catch up, and then I was on my way. When I made my way back to the UK, we both decided to wrap it up because it’s harder being virtual across the pond as opposed to another province or state.
I got my first ‘big brand’ social gig with Red Bull Music. The role was exclusively remote. I did the job whilst working in another office job. That was probably one of my most productive moments since being in the UK. There was a team of four of us, and none of us were within vicinity of each other. Actually, we hadn’t even met for a coffee. But we communicated on Google Chat, SKYPE, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, WeChat, LINE, Facebook audio and video calling, and we managed to make the campaign a success.
Most of my careers in London have been online based. Actually, they’ve been exclusively digital: online product copywriter, social media manager, etc. Yet, for some strange reason, the employer has been adamant about the team being in an office, and working under a particular regime. That’s pretty ironic, and backwards. If you want to be a digital first company, you need to think digitally. It’s understandable if the person needs to be in the country, or be able to commute to the office occasionally, but looking at it now, as a professional doing what I do, it’s hard to take company that wants to be ‘digital first’ seriously, but expect their employees to clock in and be ‘chained’ to a desk. And there’s no excuse that can justify this.
Recently I was told that remote working doesn’t work for a company because they have an ‘integrated way of working across all channels.’ Bull shit. Being digital in itself is an integration across all channels. Being digital is seamless. People live on their phones. Getting on the tube (or subway/metro) two years ago in London meant a chance to catch up on a good book. Two years later, it’s about checking your emails, or playing some type of game in the form of app. When I go to Westfield after 7pm, you can clearly hear people talking to colleagues about work. People are talking about work anytime of day. Which means that the 9 to 5 is dead. People are working away from work. So, the idea that people working for a digital first company or department need to commute into real estate is bogus.
I don’t even think it’s necessary to list off the benefits of working remotely but here it goes:
Less distractions: need I say more?
Cost effective: It’s cheaper to work virtually because you’re saving on real estate
Convenience: In your element, thus more focused
Productivity: Someone who works from their laptop is more likely to work longer and harder than someone who has consider getting up, getting ready, commuting and everything else in between
And those are just a few of the reasons working remotely is the better option. Now, bear in mind that I have done jobs where I felt compelled to work in an office. This leads me to believe that culture also needs to be taken into consideration. If you love the job and the people, then it’s likely you’ll love getting up for work everyday. But even if you do, digital first companies should still have a digital way of working.
Having a so-called laptop lifestyle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It takes discipline. But take me for example. I have this blog. I’m going back to school to complete an online degree. As a digital native, having a virtual job is a missing piece to the puzzle.
I’m also thinking that this virtual mentality is more of an American thing. Here in the UK they’re behind, which is funny, because the UK is ahead in terms of the rest of Europe. But I won’t be surprised if this country finally takes the hint once they realise the benefits.
In the meantime, it may make more sense for me to go where the real game-changers are.