A lot of things about the workplace have changed—even in the decade we’ve been in business. Silicon Valley gurus and podcast hosts have urged us to work faster, smarter, and more effectively by doing everything from microdosing on LSD to choosing our own uniforms. We keep an eye on all these trends, and we’ll experiment from time to time, but mostly we try to focus on simplicity: What helps us do our job happily, healthily, and—of course—effectively?
This philosophy has served us well in making workplace policies, particularly when it comes to a sometimes controversial idea: letting people work remote.
Gone are the Mad Men days of three-martini lunches and typewriters. The work we do and the way we do it are drastically different than 50 years ago, which is why we find being chained to a cubicle and conference room an antiquated practice. For us, letting people work where they choose isn’t just a perk. We find it can actually improve our productivity.
7 Reasons Why We Let People Work Remote
Column Five’s offices have taken many forms over the years. We’ve gone from coffee shop to corporate suites, but in recent years we’ve focused on simplicity. (Read more about why we recently moved to a smaller space.) Our remote workforce is one reason for that shift. From lifestyle changes to work habits, there are a host of reasons we’ve embraced remote work.
1) Results Are What Really Matter
Traditionally, the biggest concern about letting people work remotely is their productivity. Will people sneak off to the mall when they’re supposed to be working on a project? Sure, some people might, but we probably won’t hire those people. Our hiring process is rigorous because we find people who work hard, who are proud of what they do, and who don’t need to be micromanaged.
Our remote workers might head to a mid-day yoga class, but if they can hit their deadlines and make their meetings, then we’re OK with it. If anything, entrusting them with this freedom and flexibility makes them feel more determined to keep the privilege—and often even more productive.
2) Different People Work Differently
The more we learn about how personality traits play into our workplace dynamics, the more we can help everyone work optimally. The extroverts in our office thrive on in-office social interactions and public workspaces. But introverts may need more space and privacy.
We intentionally designed our office space to accommodate both work styles, but we know that sometimes we can all work better in a solo environment, free from distraction. Thus, we don’t mind if people work from somewhere else. For example, developer Josh Shook lives nearby but prefers to work from home, coming to the office only for major meetings and events. It works for him, so that works for us.
3) We Have the Tech
We’re lucky enough to live in an era of human history that allows us to communicate and collaborate from the ends of the earth. (Heck, we found coffee shop Internet more reliable than our own Internet back in our first office.) This allows more freedom and flexibility than ever before. We’d be fools not to take advantage of it.
4) We’ve Expanded
A few years back, we opened our second office in NY, putting our team in two different time zones. While there was a learning curve, we’ve learned to collaborate and had a fair amount of interoffice crossover, so working remotely became a natural side effect of that expansion.
(You can check out our team’s best tips on how to work remotely to find out how we solve problems while working around the country.)
5) It Aligns with Our Values
Our vision is to build a world where everyone can live healthy, fulfilled lives. We take on work that aligns with that vision, we cultivate relationships with our partners, and we aim to support our employees in the same way. When our people experience life changes or want to pursue opportunities for personal growth, we’re happy to help them facilitate that if we can.
When people become parents and need to split their time between the office and home, working remotely lets them do that. When people want to explore a new city or even travel to a new country, working remotely lets them do that.
Hence, we’ve had C5ers from all walks of life clock in everywhere from Boise to Bangkok, San Francisco to Sweden. We firmly believe that all of these experiences help our people grow, learn, and become more actualized people, which only helps them be more creative.
6) It Helps Us Attract and Retain Talent
The best people for the job aren’t always going to live in your county, city, or state. Allowing people to work remotely helps us broaden our hiring pool so that we can find creative minds all over the country. It also lets us keep the people we have if their life circumstances change.
7) It’s Only Fair
Not everybody travels for their job, but we don’t think certain rules should apply for one department and not another. If our cofounders and sales teams get to work on the road, we think a designer should, too—so long as they can get their work done (which they do).
Remote Work Isn’t a Cure-All
Naturally, there are exceptions to the rules—and not every position is ideal for remote work. But we always aim to make it work if we can, and we do make sure we get everyone together annually to enjoy face-to-face time. (We think this is crucial to stay truly connected.)
Overall, though, we’ve found this policy to be a success, and we think it’s a philosophy more businesses should put into practice. Sure, it might not be ideal for every industry. But we think being open to new ideas is always beneficial—no matter your business.
For more about how we work:
- Find out why we ditched project debriefs.
- Learn about why we prioritize passion projects—even when they don’t pay.
- Try our favorite methods to get unstuck when you’re facing a creative block.
We’d love a chance to work with you, too. Holler if you have any creative challenges you need help with.