MD of App Development Company Brightec
Written by Andy Ferrett
Jun 19, 2018

Remote working and company culture

A good friend of ours recently tweeted about remote working, which reminded me that I’d been pondering writing a blog post on this subject for a while.

 

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To give some context, here at Brightec we’ve been a fan of remote working for a number of years. Almost since I started the company, our team have worked one day per week away from the office. Initially this was fairly ad hoc, but more recently we’ve all taken this day on a Friday. We love the concept of remote working but we often see opinions that say the only way to run a good company, with a good work life balance, is with a fully distributed team. I want to put my neck out and say that I don't believe it's the right model for most companies for the following reasons:

Creativity

As Richard identifies in his tweet, there is nothing quite like working together in the same room to spark your creative juices. Whether you choose to do that on a whiteboard, with the obligatory post-its, using a design sprint, or around a laptop - nothing beats being together for the process. No matter how good they are, conference calls and video conferencing suck creative flow, so don’t expect good results if you use them in this process.

Culture

If you’ve read anything from us, you’ll know that building a strong company culture is incredibly important to us. As people spend time together they form a common culture, a common language and shared values that bind them together. We believe that the more time spent physically together, the more this culture is defined and strengthened.

Community

We value being together, building strong friendships that extend beyond the bounds of a working day. We can support, enjoy and strengthen one another by building deep relationships. Maybe relationships can be continued at a distance, but how many of your closest friendships started online and remain online? We’re wired to be in a tribe and to enjoy the benefits of that tribe.

Collaboration

This single word is used to describe our process more than any other. We work hand in hand with our clients, and together as a Brightec team, to build the best digital products. Collaboration for us means working together, often with our clients in the room but always with more than one person present. Teams build great, long-lasting products. Individuals (even superstar ones) rarely achieve that.

Coaching

Iron sharpens iron. We all need others around us to help us “be the best version of themselves” (@JothamOakley - quote from our Brightec film). We might be able to learn in isolation, but we can’t grow and mature as people without others who know us and can challenge us.

At Brightec we coach each other formally in coaching sessions and 360 reviews, and informally in conversations and interactions. It would be impossible to reach the depth of relationship required to do this without spending significant time together.

Flexible Working

At Brightec, we strongly believe that flexible working is important to ensure that work sits in the right priority, enabling a good quality of life, rather than being the only thing we live for. “Above all other things, we value the joy in both life and work.”

Working remotely has a place in this; we normally have at least one day per week where the office is empty and everyone is remote. In some circumstances people have worked for longer periods away from the office, to extend a holiday or facilitate family life. We love this as it reflects our mission “to be a company that our customers love working with, and our employees love working for”.

It seems like some companies are able to make a fully remote team work for them, but my observation is that (for the reasons above) it is VERY hard and would only work for a very small number of companies. Flexible working though should and could be a feature of almost every company or organisation, as we strive to make amazing places for people to spend their time.

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