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Pajama productivity: Our take on working remotely.

published on
February 19, 2020

I joined Simon/Myers in 2015 as a graphic designer, straight out of college. Over the next three years I grew a lot, both at the company and in my personal life. After getting married, my husband and I began thinking about having a baby. We decided we’d like to be close to my family in North Carolina. However, I didn’t want to leave a position and a company that was such a great fit for me.

When I mentioned my dilemma to our Creative Director, we talked about the idea of working remotely. At the time, Simon/Myers had no remote workers, so I didn’t get my hopes up. But both of our founders, Lou and Jim, valued me and my work enough to go all in on this new adventure.

It didn’t take long for us to realize how well the new arrangement was working. A couple months later, another team member started working remotely. Once our collaboration tools were set up, the transition was fairly seamless.

Over the next year, our office in the suburbs continued to grow. But most of our staff lived in the city. So we opened a second office downtown—and offered the rest of the team the option to work from home a couple days a week. Now that our policy is a couple of years old, we can truly say it’s been beneficial, not only to our employees, but to our business as a whole.

Benefits to our employees

  • Less Commuting: Commuting can be the most frustrating part of the work day. Reducing that frustration puts our remote employees in a more productive frame of mind, not to mention saving them money on gas, creating fewer emissions and giving them more personal time.
  • Fewer Sick Days: Unless they’re bedridden, our remote employees are more likely to be productive when they (or their children) are sick. It also means fewer germs around the office.
  • Fewer Distractions: Working remotely means being pulled into fewer impromptu meetings and less small talk with coworkers, leaving our employees with larger chunks of time to hunker down and get work done.
  • Home Location Flexibility: Full-time remote working gives our employees the freedom to live wherever they want—in an RV, on a beach, in the mountains—as long as they get good cell reception and a strong Wi-Fi signal.
  • Creature Comforts: We’ve found that working in pajama pants and snuggling with the dog helps to keep our remote employees stress-free and motivated. There’s also peace of mind knowing your best friend isn’t missing you all day.

Benefits to our business

  • Attract Better Talent: What if the best person for a position isn’t local? Or a highly valued employee wants to relocate? Being remote-friendly has given us a better chance of attracting, and keeping, the best people for our business.
  • Higher Employee Satisfaction: According to Gallup, employees who can work remotely “are more enthusiastic, energetic and positive, feel better about their work and workplace, and have better physical health.” All of our team members would agree.
  • Overall Cost Savings: Because working remotely has led to a more productive team, we’ve found that we need fewer full-time employees and less physical office space.

 

Setting up a remote-friendly workplace

It’s critical that our entire team is able to communicate and collaborate effectively. To achieve this, we chose specific tools to handle internal communications, external communications and file sharing.

  • Internal Communications: We handle most internal communications through Slack, an online collaboration tool. We set up a channel for each project and keep each team up to date on revisions, timeline changes and questions. We also use Slack to keep our culture alive, designating specific channels for water-cooler conversation, birthdays, work anniversaries and team outings.
  • External Communications: For the most part, we communicate with our clients through Microsoft Outlook emails and meeting makers.
  • Conference Calls / Screen Shares: We’ve found Zoom Meetings to be an effective tool for client kickoff calls and work presentations.
  • Project Management Software: Toggl Plan helps us manage tasks, workloads and timelines, keeping us running like a well-oiled machine.
  • File Sharing: As content creators, it’s important for us to find, edit and share files easily. Our file system, Dropbox, has enabled us to create an easy-to-navigate folder structure that makes file access a breeze.

 

The bottom line

We’ve found that offering employees the option of working remotely has created a happier, more productive work environment. It cuts down on commuting, provides scheduling flexibility, keeps everyone focused and gives us more time with our families. In my own case, it allowed me to continue working for a company I love from a place where my new baby will be closer to our extended family.

Creating a remote-friendly workplace does require some upfront effort: setting up guidelines, choosing the right tools, keeping everyone up to speed. But we’ve found that most projects are remote-compatible. And perhaps ironically, that we work better together because of it.

Hickman, A. (2020, January 24). Is Working Remotely Effective? Gallup Research Says Yes. Retrieved from www.gallup.com/workplace
Fried, Jason, and David Heinemeier Hansson. Remote: Office Not Required. Crown Business, 2013.

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