The COVID-19 pandemic changed daily life and the way many people perceive their working environment. A lot of employees started working from home and even though it made them feel a bit isolated at first, as time went on, a lot of them started finding benefits of this seemingly “short-term” solution.
And just to be clear, we promise that we’re not going to turn this article into just another piece about how a lot of businesses have now completely restructured their processes to accommodate a more remote-friendly work environment. We already have plenty of those.
Instead, we decided to explore what some of the benefits of working on-site, in an actual office environment, are and how we can adapt them so that they can serve our safety, health, and productivity needs as a digital business.
You are sitting in the comfort of your apartment, with a cup of coffee, ready to start another productive workday. Your laptop and extra screen are set on your desk and you start getting your first “Good morning!” Slack messages.
Everything is set out for you to get into full “work mode” and then 15 minutes into your first design task of the day you remember you have a massive pile of laundry to sort through. You spend the next 30 minutes doing that and telling yourself that you’ll take a shorter lunch break to compensate. But then lunch rolls around and you have the urge to watch just one more episode of that Netflix series you started late last night. And when you finally come back to your tasks, you feel like the whole day has flown by and you’ve actually been productive for only a couple of hours.
Sound familiar? Yeah, we went through that phase of the remote pandemic life too.
Working in a digital agency means that you can technically do your work from almost anywhere. And we did think about doing that for a while. But what we were failing to realize was that one of our most valuable assets was our ability to collaborate and communicate our ideas with different members of our team.
This collaboration was the basis of our productivity as well! This is why we are currently working mostly from the office, where we get to exchange ideas much quicker than sending hundreds of emails and Slack messages. Of course, we are still not fully past the COVID-19 pandemic and we want to always make sure that everyone’s health and safety is the main priority. We believe that taking some time to work from home has to always remain as an option but it should not be a main mode of work.
Throughout the past year, a lot of digital businesses tried to recreate a “real human experience” for their employees by organizing online team-building events, hosting virtual conferences, letting managers hold their 1:1s over Zoom, and many more.
This was a great strategy that helped business owners keep their teams motivated and feel as if they are still part of a community even though they are not in the same physical location as their colleagues. But as time went on, we ourselves started to notice more and more people logging into such meetings or events and not actually being 100% present. You would notice people not turning their cameras on, not responding to their name being called, or even joining in from their beds.
Being “present” with our colleagues is part of our daily office life at Stan+Vision. Our team lunches, cocktail Fridays, or just those 10 minutes after working hours, just before leaving the office - that’s when we bond together the strongest.
Maybe you are independent enough doing your work and don’t need to communicate very often or maybe your team is so well organized and all of the tasks are so perfectly assigned that everyone knows their duties and responsibilities and doesn’t have to ask multiple questions throughout the process.
If you recognize yourself in this situation, congratulations, you are the true definition of a digital unicorn! Working in a small team usually means communicating with your colleagues daily.
Communicating from a distance, no matter the kind of relationship, is way harder. You usually find yourself in a situation where you wait for hours or sometimes even for days to get a single response, and we are not even talking about extensive feedback.
In contrast, when you are working face-to-face with other people the situation can be a lot different. You can notice when someone is free to talk and if someone is not you can easily ask when it will be a good time and get a response in 5 seconds. After all, it is way harder to just ignore someone when he is standing in front of you, right?
There are two types of company culture models nowadays - you are either family members and friends or simply people who work at the same company.
The difference between the two is the culture and, most importantly, its presence or its absence. But culture is not just something that can be created in a day. When we are talking about values, mindset, common goals, ways of communication, we are talking about a long process of teaching and learning. That’s why the family metaphor matches perfectly with the first company model where the founders are the figurative parents and the members are the children.
It’s a process where we make mistakes, ask for and give forgiveness, make others proud, or give rewards. Can’t imagine raising a child from a distance, right? We have embraced that model long ago and we can proudly say that we’re siblings who support and learn from each other every single day.
What company culture would you prefer to work in?
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