One of the major benefits of working at Creative Noggin is, unquestionably, the ability to work virtually. However, with allusion to Winston Churchill, or more probably, Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
It’s a powerful thing indeed, to be able to get up in the morning, grab your cup of coffee and sit down at your desk, all before many people even begin their morning commute. Nogginers like myself, also have the easy ability and flexibility to attend our children’s school functions, work outside on our patios, schedule and keep our doctor appointments, take our pets for an afternoon walk, or take care of a few nagging errands. Not all in the same day, of course. Which segues nicely into the “great responsibility” part. Working virtually from a home office is not your average 9-to-5 job where you can glaze over and still get the boxes that you need to check, checked. (Not that any of you reading this would ever do such a thing.) To be an effective Nogginer, or any employee that works remotely, you need to:
Working virtually is largely a self-motivated gig. You must be driven to meet deadlines, read between the lines when it comes to needs, to communicate with co-workers and clients, and to keep connected to the agency as a whole. You may think that because we office from home, it could be even easier to fall into work silos and be disconnected from each other. If you’re not self-motivated, that could definitely be an issue. One way we’ve tackled this at Creative Noggin is that we’re constantly connected online during working hours through Skype direct messaging. In much the same way that you would stop by your co-worker’s office to say, “I’m heading to lunch,” we do the same – but online. In my experience, I’ve found that I have a better idea of where my virtual counterparts are on any given day than when I worked in a traditional office.
If you work out of a home office, you must be adept at staying disciplined during working hours. As you can imagine, there are plenty of distractions. Laundry can pile up, so can mail and dishes. A good rule of thumb that’s been effective for me, is that if I wouldn’t be able to do it in a traditional job setting, then I leave it for after-hours. This provides a clear-cut delineation that helps keep your eyes on the productivity prize. Despite comments you may receive from a significant other when dishes that were in the sink in morning are still in the sink in the evening.
Be Smart About Your Space
Another technique that aids in success when working virtually, is having a dedicated work area. When I go to my work space in my house, then I know I’m there to do just that. To work. When I first started officing virtually, I occasionally used the couch to work, and then sometimes the kitchen table, and then the guest room every once in a while. What I quickly discovered is that working in different areas greatly hindered my ability to be disciplined. Because while sometimes I worked on the couch, that’s mostly where I watched TV or read a book. So, being in that space, it was easier for my productivity to wane and for me to slip into leisure activities. Many of our employees report that although they work at home, they are more productive without the normal distractions of an office environment.
Be Seasoned in Your Role
There is no doubt that working virtually is best handled by those who have some years of experience under their belt. Of course, the cost/benefit ratio to an employer hiring junior talent does ultimately depend on the individual in question. However, as a general rule, junior level employees that are still learning an industry often have the most questions and the most difficulty with not learning shoulder-to-shoulder with mentors. Seasoned talent, on the other hand, have honed their craft, know what’s expected of them and can draw heavily from experience. And that philosophy is reflected in our agency’s success. Creative Noggin’s solely senior-level crew consistently produces a phenomenal caliber of work.
So, this all sounds great for Creative Noggin. But how do clients feel about it?
It’s not just a benefit to our employees, it’s a benefit to our clients. Our virtual business model allows us to keep our costs focused on our clients. Instead of a receptionist, building rent, fancy conference room, fixing squeaky furniture, office equipment, etc., we offer a more focused utilization of client marketing dollars, plus the ability to be incredibly responsive to our clients because our processes involve less layering than a traditional agency model. We see it as a win/win and our clients do too.
If you’re a potential client interested in hearing more about our business model, or a seasoned pro looking to work from a home office environment, get in touch!