For those of you who know our team, it’s no secret that we are not office based. That’s right, A3 Communications is a 100% remote-working company, and we love it! Why? Well, the obvious reason is the flexibility of course, but using emails or other technology-based tools to communicate and share updates is faster and more efficient than doing so in person. In my experience, getting up from your desk to go and speak to a colleague always ends up taking longer than just firing off an email. Our productivity is significantly higher than if we were office-based mainly because we don’t waste as much time. For example, meetings start and end sharply on time (not one minute late!) which is much harder to achieve face to face. The absence of a traditional office also promotes a greener work environment by removing any commuting, which helps decrease traffic volume, and hence cuts carbon emissions and improves air quality. So, by working from our homes, the café around the corner, or the local library, we are ultimately helping to save the planet.
That’s not to say that working remotely is always easy sometimes it brings obstacles of the most ludicrous kind, which is why we wanted to provide an insight into the life of a remote PR professional.
We always start the week with a team call to discuss all our clients and set the priorities for the coming days. This is also a chance to do some brainstorming and to catch up on what we’ve all been up to at the weekend, even though it’s commonplace for the team to chat on WhatsApp on Saturdays or Sundays. Our WhatsApp feeds never get a break: there is always a conversation going on in a client group or in the general A3 Communications one which includes the whole team. We also have a group for creative ideas, one for events, one for the French team, one for the German team, the group for management, the group for fun, the group for admin - the list goes on. Mostly we discuss clients and work-related items but also dogs, cats, babies, holidays, and the TV series FRIENDS, the knowledge of which some of us argue should be one of the skills required to join our agency. We might not be together physically, but we are virtually, and we are a very close-knit team (some ‘outsiders’ say it’s probably because we don’t see each other every day!). My to do list resulting from our all-hands call is long but manageable and will take me to a couple of off-site meetings this week. Monday ends with a planning call, which was going really well until my toddler walked in with a pretend cake in hand singing me happy birthday (three months early). Thankfully, a few minutes later, the VP of marketing at the other end of the line had to go on mute because his dogs started barking!
I start the day by checking our shared diary and the first entry reads: “At Fred's: auto electrician (checking parking sensors). I should be able to work as usual”. I am not surprised by this insight into Fred’s life. To work effectively as a remote team, we share very detailed diaries, which often include personal engagements, and the more details the better because we need to know how available that person will be during that time: if for example you are having your nails done, you could still join a team call (no typing, though!) these insights help us schedule meetings. Today I have to draft a press release and a case study: the two clients are expecting them by tomorrow morning so I block a few hours in my shared diary to ensure I can get in the right frame of mind and not have my colleagues add me to calls or other entries. I have not decided yet whether I’ll write them from my home office, or the newly opened cafe across the road. Although dinner is already in the oven so maybe I will work from my home office today.
This is the day of client calls. The many, many client calls. For a mysterious reason, most of the calls with our US-based client contacts happen on Wednesday afternoons, all back to back. I like to use this time to be away from my screen and to stretch my legs. I find it removes distractions, eliminates the temptation to check emails or multitask while on the call. Pacing around my home office while in phone meetings helps me focus and can be quite soothing… until the ice cream truck parks outside my flat and starts blaring out its well-known tune because, you know, the sun was out for almost an hour in London and we can all pretend Spring is finally here. I rush to my desk and WhatsApp the client group that I need to go on mute until the ice-cream van has gone and, with it, the hordes of screaming children about to embark on a sugar rush.  Glad I finished that press release and the case study this morning when I could let my creative juices flow uninterrupted. I also managed to squeeze in some yoga at lunchtime: working from home means I can wear my workout clothes all day and do some exercise when there’s a break between calls. Mens sana in corpore sano and all that…
My day started early. I was woken by my toddler at 3am and made the mistake of checking emails. Only to find out a client had cancelled an event we’ve been working on for months. Because most of our clients’ PR teams are based in the US, emails in the middle of the night are a common thing. And we don’t restrict ourselves to normal office hours, for better…or for worse! So I fire off a quick reply (or three – can anyone else not go back to sleep if they need to reply to a new email?) and head back to bed. The rest of the day goes well, with a client meeting over lunch. Holding meetings where convenient for our clients has allowed me to discover many towns around London. I highly recommend The Ivy brasserie in Marlow!
I often work away from London on Fridays. Having the flexibility to work from anywhere has the advantage of being able to avoid the Friday afternoon/Saturday morning traffic of office-based workers who are leaving home for the weekend. I find that the optimal travel time for weekend breaks is Thursday evening or Friday morning. Today, I’m working from the Scottish Highlands. With a view of Loch Torridon and the mountains beyond, what better place to be writing about multicloud strategies? In an unexpected turn of events, a client’s CEO we’ve been trying to secure time with for a couple of months, is visiting London next week. I have exactly four days to get his time filled with briefings so I start texting and calling my closest contacts. Within half an hour I have two interviews secured and a solid ‘maybe.’ In the afternoon, I take my last team call while strolling in the nearby forest and I am ready to enjoy the weekend as soon as things quieten down.
Remote working is one of the reasons behind the longevity of our agency. However, it is not just a perk for us it’s one if our greatest strengths. Because when A3 Communications is in recruitment mode, our talent pool is the world! Why limit your options to candidates that are an hour away or so from an office when you can hire the most desirable people regardless of their locations? This set up allows us to easily cover the globe with people that usually stay much longer because they can move to a new city and retain their job, they can adapt their working hours as they like, around building a family or taking on a new hobby and they can generally enjoy a greater work-life balance. This brings increased productivity, creativity and stability to the client teams, resulting in A3ers knowing their clients inside out because generally the same people work on the same account from the start, and producing higher-quality work because of this knowledge. I have been working remotely for seven years and I wouldn’t go back to being office based for anything in the world.