In my more than 20 years of employment, I have learned some key things about my own level of productivity. I've learned that in the morning I'm almost never very productive. I get a second (or third or fourth) wind as the day wears on. Sometimes I need a change of scenery. Sometimes I need to close the door and sometimes I need to invite others in to bounce ideas.
More often than not, I need a place that allows me to focus on what I need to focus on without the distractions of phone, email, people, etc. In fact, as I write this blog post, I'm not at the office. I'm away at an undisclosed location to focus.
Two things have come up at Tribute Media in the last couple of weeks that have made me rethink completely how we approach our office time. First, we had an employee ask, "Can I just take some time to work offsite for a few hours? I can't get anything done with the distractions here at the office."
We have always had the goal of being a great place to work. We value our employees and, to toot our own horn a little, we are a top 10 winner as a best place to work in idaho. Based on this, I started considering options for Tribute Media and how we can improve our productivity and one thing kept coming to my mind as I thought about our productivity on Fridays. Whenever half our office is gone on Friday, the half that is there is way more productive. Way.
I keep thinking back to why we are in an office anyway. When Tribute Media started in 2007 we were all remote. As we grew beyond six employees, we felt it was necessary to have a place we could meet on a regular basis so we got an office. As our team grew, our office grew. We still need whiteboard time. We still need collaboration face-to-face. Sometimes being face-to-face can't be replaced by remote tools but having that level of accessibility invites distractions. As such, we need time we can focus and be productive.
Well, that is almost a little too much of a commitment. So, we are running a trial. We'll start for just the month of April. And, no, just because the first Friday of the month is April Fool's, this is no joke. We want to make sure that we give this a fair shot.
During this test, our office doors will be locked and the main line of the phone will go to voice mail. Our clients hire us to do amazing marketing things for them and answering the phone doesn't always let us do that.
While our doors are locked and our main phone lines go to voice mail, our employees will still be working strong. They'll just have the option to work in the office or away from the office. They'll have more flexibility to work in a way that will make them more effective.
During this test, you might worry that you won't be able to get a hold of us. While we are focused on a project, we might not be able to answer the phone right away... but, if we are in the office or away from the office and working on something else, we wouldn't be available to answer the phone anyway.
During our trial of Office Free Friday, we'll be checking email. We'll be checking voicemail. We'll be working on projects. We'll be taking care of support things. We just may not directly answer the phone. If there is anything that comes up that can't wait until Monday, we'll address it right away.
In fact, we'll probably still have plenty of client meetings... we just might do those from 5 different locations instead of all our team being in the same room at the office.
The reality is, for the last seven years, we have been using online tools for collaboration like GoToMeeting, Dropbox and Skype (though, we are currently also testing Slack as a replacement for Skype). We also have our project management in Wrike and our support in Freshdesk. All these tools are cloud-based and can do amazing things. They truly enable the remote office.
Even our website tools and our marketing tools don't require us to be physically in the same location so we might as well use them to their fullest.
The biggest concern we might see during this test, and if we choose to continue after the trial, is what happens if you have a support issue; what will you do? We have long since established a great support system to manage support tickets. We have already found that submitting a ticket via our support submission system is more effective than a phone call anyway. When you send an email or leave a voice message (because we are so busy, even now it's hard to answer the phone every time) we can't collect information that you don't know we need. But, when you fill our support form completely, we can jump more quickly on your behalf. On the very rare occasions that your website might be down, the form notifies us in a different way and it becomes a critical thing to work through when we get that support ticket.
So, as always, the fastest way to get support is to use our support form. That process and that availability won't change from it's current process.
Now, this is a test for our team but if it causes any problems with our clients then we want to make sure they are addressed immediately. I would invite you to comment below or drop us a line and let us know if you have any problems we need to address.
We believe that this will be very positive for our team and for our clients so the trial is starting in full force during the month of April and I'll follow up at the end and let you know how it turned out.