Cultiv8 Creative | Digital Design Agency

Virtual Office: Benefits & Challenges by Amy Phillips | Cultiv8 Creative

Virtual Office: Benefits & Challenges

For years, I have been a fan of Base Camp’s remote structure and the benefits it has created for their company. If you haven’t read their book Remote: Office Not Required, then I highly recommend you add it to your list. When Caitlin and I began planning the launch of Cultiv8 Creative, one of the things we discussed in detail was whether a remote business model made sense or not.

At the forefront of this discussion was our desire for clients, family, and community to all be active parts of our business and daily lives. We wanted these things to fit in and around each other in a way that did not sacrifice one for the other. Making sure all three areas received our very best work, attention, and support.

Because of this philosophy, we chose to launch our business as 100% remote. We realize that this business model isn’t for everyone or every industry. Additionally, it does come with its own set of challenges. With that being said, we wanted to share a few of the benefits and challenges we’ve experienced since launch.

The Benefits

ProductivityThe benefit of not working with co-workers consistently throughout the 9-5 grind is the removal of distractions and the ability to really focus. I know for me there is something amazing that happens when everyone else leaves the house in the morning and it’s quiet, or when I’m sitting outside a coffee shop and I can hear the wind in the trees. The noise that is life fades away and I can focus on ONE task in front of me. And I mean really focus on it. It’s during these dedicated times that I am most productive, whether that be outlining a solution or designing a digital ad. It doesn’t have to be hours, honestly it can be one solid hour, but I typically get more done than if my time is broken into smaller sections.

Reduced OverheadAn obvious benefit of a remote business is the reduced overhead. Not paying rent and utilities on a building is a huge savings, especially as a startup company. There are alternative expenses – virtual mailing address, cloud phone, coffee shop tab – that are not incurred when you do not have a building, but the costs are substantially smaller than when you do. In addition, I personally like the fact that not having an office allows me to spend some of the unused “rent” money at local cafés and coffee shops*.

*Side Note: If you are planning on working from coffee shops, make sure that the time you spend is proportional to what you spend. Working from a café/coffee shop is a great way to keep your overhead down, but don’t forget about the café’s overhead. Good rule of thumb is to buy something small every hour or spend $10+ dollars if you are working for several consecutive hours.

Fresh PerspectiveWorking in different environments (home office, coffee shop, outdoor patio) has really aided in problem solving. Most solutions and ideas come to us from every day experiences or observations. Being in a fresh environment with different stimulants often makes me more alert and aware of the project/task that is in front of me. Sometimes inspiration comes from unlikely places. Being able to switch up my environment has the power to maximize how I use my time.

The Challenges

Maintain AccountabilityWorking remotely lends itself to flexibility which can be wonderful. However, with freedom comes great responsibility. When you are not required to be somewhere for a certain time, it’s easy to delay starting your day. In an effort to combat this, we have committed to being online (Slack) by 8:30am each morning. Knowing someone else is expecting you is a great motivator to get your day going. If you are a solopreneur this may be a bigger struggle, so make a conscious effort to determine what methods help you maintain that accountability. Whether it be asking a friend to check-in on you or choosing to work away from home in a different space/coffee shop to be around other people. *As a bonus hanging out at a local shop could even lead to unexpected conversation and new friendships!

Technology / SecurityWorking remotely means working in the cloud, from communication/messaging to storing files and credentials. Because of this, it’s even more important to take extra measures in securing sensitive information. It is tempting and cheaper to simply throw login credentials into a spreadsheet. However, that opens the door to potential issues should a data breach occur. Keep your information secure and more importantly keep your client’s information secure. For password storage, we use an encrypted service (TeamPassword) to organize and secure all of our company and client logins. This allows us to protect and manage who has access to that information.

Scheduling: When working at a physical office, you may have a meeting at 9am then go back to your desk and work from 10am-11am before attending another meeting at 11am. As a remote business, meetings are held at the clients’ office or at local coffee shops which is why it is important to organize your meeting times in such a way to prevent yourself from spending all your billable hours driving around town. Our method for managing this successfully is to block out multiple meetings for the same day and/or by planning dedicated work spaces in and around client meetings for maximum productivity. Also, plan beforehand around which coffee shops/work spaces are available and convenient for working in between meetings.

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Every day is a work in progress and no method is perfect for everyone. Test what may work best for you and then put that plan into action for stability. Have an idea you want to share or a question you want to ask us? Send us an email at info@gocultiv8.com, we would love to chat with you.

Pros and Cons of Working Remotely
Virtual Office: Benefits and Challenges