The Rebel Company
Ed and Donkey
Article / Beliefs

Work From Home Is Dead. Long Live Work From Anywhere

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5 Things We’ve Always Done To Facilitate A Better Relationship With Work.

(Note - Donkeys are optional)

Before lockdown, my girlfriend and I popped down to our regular country bolthole. My housemate's garage conversion in the New Forest. We then decided to sit it out in the rural ideal, rather than come back to London. It was a tough decision at the time. But looking back, it's one of the best things we've ever done.

The internet was ablaze with panic and talk of a "fundamental shift" in ways of working. But for us at Rebel, it was an easy transition. Because it's exactly how we've been working for years. And I now know more than ever, that we’re on the right track.

In the spirit of transparency and in the hope that this may be of benefit to companies struggling with going remote. Here are five things we've always done. Things which have helped us achieve results whilst almost never being in the same room.

Long may work from anywhere continue!

1. Let culture lead the way

Someone once said that "culture eats strategy for breakfast". The best-laid plans fall apart when imposed on people. Those who subsequently act begrudgingly when under duress. Good culture creates willingness, openness and results.

What we do is guided by the principals of an established brand. Even if we're a young, small business. Here are a few excerpts from our brand manual.

2. Select specific tools to separate competing business functions and allow for collaboration

We're constantly looking for ways to be more efficient and to deliver better work. Always in consultation with those who are going to be involved in the various processes.

I've always hated email. It's a miscellany of others' priorities. Vital to external conversations? Of course. But the best way to communicate with colleagues? Absolutely not.

There are tools out there to make life better. We separate specific areas of the business by deploying different tools to manage them. This ensures that time scheduled to be spent on a particular task is done so without distraction. That nothing else gets in the way. And don't get me started on WhatsApp.

We’ve tried pretty much everything out there. And these are our current favourite tools for remote, collaborative and results-focused working. Helping to focus on what’s important, not whats fun, exciting or shouting the loudest. (No bribes were paid in the writing of this list)

Slack - The almost ubiquitous internal messaging app for agencies and creatives, Slack allows you to manage your own engagement and working hours. Mark yourself away when you don’t want to be disturbed and your colleagues will only push through urgent messages (or give you a nudge on WhatsApp)

Asana - Project and task management. With added gantt functionality it’s the perfect tool for managing complex projects with multiple stakeholders. It’s also great for to-do lists, meeting agendas and for one-on-one team catch-ups.

Pipedrive - A new addition to our world, Pipedrive handles our CRM and automates most of our new business process, making scheduling and keeping connected personal and easy. And most importantly, brings all relevant new business email and calendar functions into one place, away from all the other distracting clutter in your inbox.

Loom - Allows you to record your screen with audio commentary and added personality through a video thumbnail. Brilliant for sharing presentations, feedback and work where a little elaboration is needed

Miro - A brilliant tool for live, remote collaboration with partners and clients. Miro facilitates brainstorms, white-boarding sessions, flow and process charts, and anything else visual that you’d also do when sat in a room together (Tip - use Apple Sidecar and Google Hangouts to make things even more personal over two screens).

3. Routine will set you free

At first, this sounds like an oxymoron. But I take great comfort in having a specific time set aside each day, week and month for certain tasks.

An example. The first Tuesday of each month is for bookkeeping and general administration. And our accounts process is perfectly honed to allow me to park the majority of both until this day each month. Each Friday morning is marketing. Oh, and no meetings on a Monday because that's a day to get shit done.

The first hour of the day is set aside for consuming interesting content, checking emails and clearing down slack. I then check in again on the latter two after lunch and at the end of the day.

By carving out time for administrative, procedural tasks throughout the month, I find myself able to focus on the important stuff. Doing great work for clients. And finding great clients to do work for.

I've found this structure vital. And every time I slip back into my old, less organised ways, everyone ends up losing out.

4. Chill the f&@k out

There are only two types of problems. Those you can do something about. And those you can't.

I always ask myself where stress comes from if a) you can control and change a given situation or b) the situation is out of your hands. Of course, this is overly simplistic and a degree of stress comes with what we all do.

But in spite of this, we must all work hard to maintain a perspective and relax a little. As leaders, we have can have a powerful impact on those around us. This can be overwhelmingly positive, or oppressively negative. And I know which kind of leader I'd rather be.

5. Let your people go surfing

Yves Chouinard, founder of Patagonia thinks this is so important, he wrote a book about it.

The importance of being flexible about when and where people work is central to this legendary brand's success. If the surf is great on a Tuesday, get out there. Because a culture that blends freedom with responsibility means that your wave-riding employee will, of course, spend Saturday catching up.