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Work where you work best: A first-hand account on working remotely with Notepad
It’s been predicted that by 2020, 50% of the UK workforce will be working remotely in some capacity. This doesn’t surprise me. It actually reinforces how in favour of working remotely I am. I think teams (in this day and age) should not be defined by the offices they work from, but by the culture, attitudes and values for the work they do and share.
Early on in my career, I was quite picky with regards to the agencies I wanted to work for. I would only ever apply for roles with agencies that were under a 45-minute commute from my home in Hackney. When I started consulting on a freelance basis, I mingled with many experienced freelancers and was quickly introduced to tools and apps such as DropBox, Slack, Google Hangouts and of course Deliveroo. Remote working suited me well, it gave me the freedom to decide where to work, based solely on where I worked best.
Shared workspaces were already popular back then, with brands like WeWork leading the fray. Many freelancers, small businesses and start-ups looking for cheap office space and after-hours networking naturally gravitated towards this model of working.
Hot-desking became the next cool thing to do in my world. More often than not, I’d work from my desk at home, in a coffee shop or in the park on a sunny day. My client’s location was no longer important to me and neither was my physical presence to my clients. The most important thing was that I still produced high quality work and in a timely manner. I’m now seeing more diverse businesses embracing the remote working model, but many are lagging behind. There is no doubt that the UK’s working economy is in a period of flux, but with more awareness around mental health, people are looking for flexible modes of working that offer better work-life balances and schedules.
Joining Notepad was a great move for me. It’s an agency unlike so many I worked for before and represents the future in this industry. Notepad sets the tone for what’s to come with the next generation of branding agencies and start-ups. Notepad has a culture which is built on hard work and independence and so we embrace all kinds of technology that help us work better, faster and smarter and if that’s working remotely then so be it.
At Notepad, we ‘Huddle’ every morning at 9.15am. Each one of us takes their turn to talk about what they plan to achieve that day and what is needed in terms of support from the team. It makes the separation of 100 miles (Birmingham to London) for me feel non-existent and the work process highly collaborative and nimble.
Due to the nature of my work, I still need to be at the office in Birmingham once a week and to be honest with you, I would not have it any other way. The rest of the week I can work from anywhere in the UK and quite possibly anywhere in Europe (if you consider how cheap air travel is nowadays).
The world really is my oyster and I keep reminding myself to make the most of the various working options out there. We also have a running membership at SpacesWorks, with over 10 fully serviced locations in London alone. Working remotely gives you the freedom to move around – meeting many diverse people, it disrupts your routine in a good way – keeping you creative and makes achieving a work-life balance easy. From my personal experience at Notepad, remote working is an opportunity to find where you work best, fastest and smartest. It’s an exciting stage in the evolution of work and it will be a big draw (to people looking for flexible working) for any company that can genuinely offer it.
Obviously, there are some downsides to working remotely. It can be lonely at times, there is a much higher dependence on technology to stay connected and it requires you to be motivated to work hard (unsupervised) each day.
This quote from Sir Richard Branson at Virgin sums it up well: “We like to give our people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they are at their desk or in their kitchen”.
For most businesses, traditional office working is still considered ‘the most efficient way of working’ and for most leaders ‘an absent employee is an unproductive employee’. This is where the biggest shift in our mentality must take place. The company’s culture will determine how successful the shift towards flexible ways of working will be.
With the rise of online shopping, homeschooling and now remote working, I believe this is just another chapter in human evolution and businesses must embrace it.
The sooner businesses can facilitate more flexible ways of working (as Notepad has done) the better their chances will be of appealing to an existing pool of talent that has up until now, been largely overlooked.