For years, most businesses resisted remote work.
”Impossible,” they said. “How can we manage our teams when they’re working from their kitchen tables?” Almost everyone believed this story: it’s impossible for employees to be productive at home.
Except for a small number of businesses who inhabit a parallel universe I accidentally discovered three years ago.
At first glance, you’d think it was a world occupied by eccentrics and misfits. Dig deeper, and you find thousands of hyper-efficient businesses generating insane profits without a physical location anywhere.
After my children were born, I stumbled into that world of virtual business pretty much by accident. As a mum of three, it was never my plan to become a freelance copywriter. I didn’t even know what one was. But here I am, running my online business from my home in rural Nidderdale.
Every step in my customers’ journey happens 100 per cent online. It gives me freedom to serve clients from the UK to Canada to Singapore and beyond...all from the comfort of my kitchen, at times that suit my family.
Since the start of the pandemic, business for copywriters has been booming. As businesses shifted online, they realised they needed words to sell (and I got words!). What’s fascinating is,
I’ve never once met a client face-to-face, and it’s never once felt like a problem.
Most recently, I began doing work for a global online ad agency. It has no corporate headquarters. In fact, it has no physical office space at all. And yet, it generates millions of dollars per year, creating digital ads for major US brands. What’s more, it boasts a team of over 50 advertising specialists from 22 different nations, with ambitions to grow to 100 this year.
No, I’ve never once met my colleagues. And there’s a good chance I never will. But here’s what’s exciting – as far as companies go, it’s as tight and effective as any I’ve ever worked with.
Perhaps even more so because every team member knows how blessed they are to work from home.
In the past, few people – especially mothers – could ever hope to enjoy this level of freedom and opportunity for a rewarding career. Tied to our commutes and 9-5s, many of us were grateful for whatever part-time work we could get... as long as we could pick our kids up from school.
The pandemic has changed all that. Forward-thinking business owners have realised that employees can work away from management’s watchful eye, without their businesses imploding.
Now, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time at the ad agency, it’s that remote teams thrive when their managers to trust them. Set clear common goals and 99 per cent of the time, staff are motivated to exceed them.
Yes, it takes structure. The IT systems and processes at the agency are out of this world but they’re built on off-the-shelf software subscriptions anyone can buy for £20 a month. It’s the perfect model for a prosperous post-Covid business.
For me, none of this remote stuff mattered before I had children. Work was my income source as well as the centre of my social life (it’s where I met my husband). I suffered the commute and office politics for all the non-work benefits that came with the job.
Nowadays, my career depends on the flexibility I get from virtual working. Without it, I’d be forced to choose between being there for my children or advancing my career. That’s because, despite best efforts from major corporations, the pre-Covid way of doing things still doesn’t work for many mothers. Why else are online forums packed with women, desperate to escape their 9-5?
If there’s one positive we can take from the Covid-19 hardship, it’s this – the quiet shift to remote work, that was simmering slowly in the darkest depths of the internet, has been given the spark it needed to explode into the real world. It’s been a long wait, especially for women. I, for one, am excited to see where this post-Covid shift takes us.