In the physical world, where I buy my groceries, play with my kids, and plug into the concerns of my clients, I'm located in sunny Austin, Texas—home to one of the nation's densest pools of design and technical talent. I'm proud of the team of amazing pros we've assembled. But even in today's cloud-based, connected environment, clients are sometimes surprised to learn that the entire Slide UX team meets, works, and collaborates remotely.
In today's post, I'd like to share six reasons WHY we're a remote company (hint: it has a lot to do with WHO it allows us to hire).
1. Headed out of the office to get something accomplished? Been there.
My first job was an eye-opener. I'll never forget having to sneak out of the office to get any actual work done, and worse yet, sneak back in after hours to finish the piece I'd had on my plate all day. There's nothing like the feeling of abandoning your desk and that expensive best-in-class technology your organization has invested in to hole up in a Starbucks with your laptop and finish an urgent deliverable.
Proponents of the traditional office setup still tout it for collaboration and socialization, but as a study by the British Journal of Psychology noted, the modern office is too often a tower of Babel, where workers lose the battle for their own thoughts to a constant din of irrelevant conversation (not to mention those depressing cube farms where employers respond by enforcing grim silence—what a creativity killer!).
Here at Slide UX, getting great work done comes first. That's why our team members set up their primary workstations where they can have a fighting chance of getting things done.
2. People work better when they're comfortable.
It shouldn't be a news flash in the 21st century that everybody's different. And that goes double for creative people and knowledge workers. Comfort means different things to different people. For you it may mean that a pot of your favorite coffee blend is always brewing. For me it may be sandals on my feet or simply the freedom to run the thermostat at my preferred temperature.
In fact, Cornell University did a study that determined that workers who were too cold committed 44 percent more errors and were less than half as productive as those who were comfortable. UX is all about human productivity. That commitment to good UX principles like connectedness and familiarity is embedded in the way we do business.
3. We want the time our team devotes to the company to be meaningful time.
There's certainly something to be said for each employee spending the equivalent of several workdays a year getting into office clothes (not to mention doing their hair, putting on makeup, shaving, etc.) and some 285 hours a year sitting in traffic. We're just not sure what it is.
Instead of requiring those extra hours before and after work, we structure our time toward accomplishing our clients' goals and doing purposeful, challenging work that matters within an 8-hour workday.
4. We want to work alongside happy people.
There are people who live by work and duty alone, but you won't find them on the Slide UX team. Did Picasso, Einstein, or Steve Jobs shatter the status quo while chained inside a cubicle?
Our team members have hobbies they love and adventures they embrace. We've found that interesting, creative people thrive with the space to explore themselves and what the world has to offer. It pays off in happiness, satisfaction, and the creative spark to conceive innovative ideas that overturn stale thinking and invigorate our clients' projects.
5. We don't believe ambition and family responsibilities are mutually exclusive.
Some of the best talent out there have family responsibilities. I remember when my grandparents were aging, my mother carefully mapped out her strategy for swapping tasks with co-workers so that she could slip over to the nursing home to spend precious moments with them before their dinner meal. The demands of family are now my own—I'm the mother of two boys—but despite the ups and downs of my parental obligations, I've seen myself grow personally and in my own effectiveness in my work.
The data supports my experience. Work-life balance isn't just a buzz phrase. A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis indicated that parents with two or more children were actually more productive than their colleagues. Team members who know they can fulfill the ties of love and obligation can focus their energies on work without distractions.
6. We're planning ahead.
Today, our full-time team member hail from all corners of Austin.
But as we grow, it won't stay that way for much longer. Our extended team already includes a diverse pool of specialists we know and trust, and allows us to provide only the best to our clients. Our commitment to remote working as a standard operating procedure is a huge advantage in talent-rich Austin (where some studies project that commuting 20 miles to the Round Rock suburbs could take a whopping three hours a day by 2035). It also positions us to recruit self-motivated, results-driven talent from all over the world.
Overcoming the Distance
So what are the challenges of operating as a remote company? Doesn't design require collaboration? What about growing junior team members into leaders? How can a bunch of "hired guns" develop a company culture? We've tackled each of these challenges. And now that we've shared the WHERE, WHY, and WHO of our company's operations, we'll share our experiences in tackling the HOW on how we collaborate remotely with our clients and with one another. Look for more from us on this topic soon!
Image Source: CC BY Photo: Markus Spiske / www.temporausch.com
1.7.15 UPDATE: Here's a great TED talk about Why Work Doesn't Happen at Work by Jason Fried. It's worth the listen.