Putting people in the creative industries to work in an office, during set hours, has never felt right. Why don't more full-time employed creatives work remotely?
Like some kind of Industrial Revolution hangover, working in offices can feel restrictive and uncomfortable, as if employers are saying to staff: “You don’t enjoy working, so I’m going to make you. And to make sure I can make you, I’m going to make you come to this same place at this same time every day”.
But having an aversion to work has never applied to creative people. Creatives enjoy the challenges thrown at them, enjoy solving problems, enjoy crafting a design. They enjoy their work and resent being made to feel like they don’t.
Conversely, if people are made to feel enabled and trusted to succeed, they are far more likely to. Remote working can give individuals the freedom to work in ways that suit them.
The more balanced, rounded, inspired and experienced we all are, the better we’ll be at our work. Remote working can also allow people the prospect of working alongside the best design practitioners in the world, not just the best in the office.
This is why nine months ago, Dave Brown, David Bicknell (Bic) and I decided to start a branding agency, Brown&co, using an outsource model.
The agency is based on the principle that if people can operate in ways individually tailored to them, if they feel encouraged to achieve a healthy work-balance, if they are able to work without distraction at home (while joined up online) then they will ultimately do better work, more efficiently.
To further fly in the face of industry convention, Brown&co also only measures collaborators on output, rather than hours, and clients pay for the same (shock and horror), without the overheads of a large full-time staff in an office.
A fit-for-purpose, built-on-demand team of specialists allows for maximum output with agility and flexibility, so we can all work more easily toward extremely challenging deadlines and at a lower price point.
Productivity (defined simply as ‘inspiration with discipline’) is high at the minute. The collaborators are working more often in places and ways that inspire them, while not being subject to a ‘distraction factory’ (as the founders like to call the modern office environment). This has resulted in great work being produced, while creatives feel happier, healthier and freer than in years.
One collaborator is even fulfilling her dreams of travelling while earning. It’s an exciting opportunity to connect with different cultures, broadening experiences, deepening her empathy, and potentially encouraging her to think more openly about brand challenges and solutions.
Opportunities like this leave collaborators feeling more balanced, more in touch and more productive – but does it translate into better work?
It’s been six months since Brown&co opened its metaphorical doors, and with large projects on two major international brands, this great experiment is working well.
We’ve already been told on more than one occasion by different multinational clients that ours is "some of the best work we’ve ever seen", and done in "miraculous timeframes".
It seems the work we are producing is living up to its promise, and that can only really be as the result of working differently and attracting better people by working differently – in ways that people work best, and in ways they enjoy.
Of course, this challenges the old school thinkers who say if you leave people to their own devices nothing ever gets done, and that you can’t do good creative work unless you’re all sitting physically together in the same room.
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