Last week I read a very interesting and thought provoking article about Sir Richard Branson and his staff across the Virgin group of companies. The article was about Sir Richard allowing his staff to pretty much come and go as they please, providing all work, projects, targets and revenues were hit/completed properly. I think the idea is that this breeds loyalty, less sickness, fewer emergency or seemingly pointless holidays and builds trust on both sides. Amazing idea I thought, at first. Then I got to thinking about doing this across the digital sector, a sector that can track and report on almost every single second of work, data, revenue and performance all at the click of a button, a great idea then right?
Here’s why I then started to think not! Our team often gets together randomly simply to swap ideas for campaigns, proposals, marketing strategies, website changes, recruitment ideas and more. This gets the creative juices flowing and at times becomes quite animated, with ideas and counter ideas flying everywhere. Could we do this as well if we had half a team working from home? I’m not sure! A lot of the stuff that makes us as effective as we are is probably the stuff you can’t really track or report on – the ideas, the emotion and the gut feeling stuff. Would this mean we would need to keep super detailed journals, log all our thoughts and ideas just to be as effective working from home? Again, I’m not sure!
At First Internet we’ve just been through a lot of change to make our environment as comfortable as possible for both staff and clients. We’ve extended our working space, invested in new hardware, software, furniture and staff, refurbished the board room to make it more aesthetically pleasing and comfortable (big TV’s and free coffee) and we even have a cute little office dog, Kara. It’s not a bad place to be at all. So is this the real answer? Be flexible, be comfortable, be creative but be together under one roof as a proper team. Not that I’m doubting a man that has his own planes, trains and an island, I’m just not sure work would have the right feel with us all coming and going as we please. I’d be interested to see how this pans out for Virgin and its staff.