A Long-Distance Relationship with Remote Workers

As digital transformation takes hold across most companies, remote working or telecommunicating is increasingly secure and accessible to more people than ever before. According to Fast Co Design, 25% to 57% of the most innovative companies’ employees are working remotely. From video conferencing to VPN access and collaboration platforms, remote employees are almost right there in the office.

At the same time, companies like IBM — who led the telecommuting trend two decades ago — have asked thousands of remote workers to return to the office last year. And companies like Apple and Google have typically resisted the trend. Why are these companies that are heralding digital transformation, not embracing one of its biggest benefits for mobility?

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And that’s our approach at Y&R Austin. At any given time, we have several remote workers, but it’s the exception, not the norm. In our industry, collaboration is key and we recognize the authenticity and effectiveness that comes with face-to-face meetings.

As such, our remote-working scenarios are carefully considered and must serve a purpose greater than convenience … like Liz, who worked remotely for a few months as she transitioned back from maternity leave. Or Nancie, who helped us quickly scale up our strategy department from her home base of New York, by participating in New York-led eXploring projects and assisted us with potential clients based in the Empire State. Or Stella, who home-offices out of Houston, near our Reliant client.

Still, collaborating remotely does have its challenges. As Nancie can attest, more than once we’ve failed to dial-in to a conference line and left her listening to hold music. Sorry, Nancie!

But we’ve also put focus on ensuring our company culture expands beyond our office walls. Stella is an active member of our People Team and frequently drives into Austin for important meetings and events, even staying with her in-laws to allow for more frequent trips. We’ve sent several care packages up to New York for Nancie. And she’s even sent us a fruit bouquet to contribute to a potluck from afar!

Our balance of in-office and purposeful remote working has been very effective. And because we’ve all become well-versed in collaboration tools such as screen shares and video chats, we know how to stay productive even when sick-kid days or Austin “snow days” force us to work from home.

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Sending Nancie love from afar