Why we took our digital team fully remote

More and more companies are going remote or choose to employ remote workers, so we decided to write a post about why we in particular did it, and how we now work as a team and with our clients.
Written by Francesca

Let’s start with a little bit of background. Series Eight began in London, UK by its two founders, designers Mario and Francesca Vassiliades. Just over two years ago, they decided to uproot the agency and go fully remote which at the time was a pretty scary move. Fast forward to 2018, Series Eight is still here and it turned out to be the best decision we’ve made to date.

More and more companies are going remote or choose to employ remote workers, so we decided to write a post about why we in particular did it, and how we now work as a team and with our clients.

Why did we choose to go remote?

To better our team

The biggest benefit of going remote was to do with our team. First it meant we were able to hire based on talent versus location, which was highly instrumental in growing our company because it meant the quality of our work and efficiency of our process dramatically improved. Secondly it meant we had to hire self starters, since as a remote team member you have to be self-motivated and disciplined. As a result, the team is self sufficient and able to take a decisive and confident approach to their work. There’s also a mutual trust that comes from not working face to face, trusting people with that “freedom”, and from that comes a high level of morale which makes for healthy team relationships.

A better lifestyle

It depends on the person, but if you’re cut out for remote working and manage to separate work and home life, chances are you’ll be a happier and less stressed person working remotely. It’s an amazing feeling to gain that control over your own lifestyle and schedule.

When commuting and working set office hours, even the smallest things become stressful to fit in your week. By having a more flexible schedule with remote working, balancing your career and life is a much smoother process. From dental appointments, cooking a healthy lunch, post lunch power naps, walking the dog, to spending time with your kids. It allows you to work in a way where you are your most productive.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a great coffee shop or coworking, that’s really helpful too - there’s a lot of motivation and inspiration to be found working alongside like minded people, and the chatter and sound of a coffee machine weirdly works for me. Not to mention, you can travel to anywhere with an internet connection.

We didn’t actually need to be in a specific place

Over the four years that Series Eight has been running, we accumulated a number of international clients, so it didn’t seem to matter where we were based anymore. Being distributed across Europe, we’re lucky enough to be only short flights away from amazing industry conferences and events too.

How do we work with clients?

We’ve certainly learnt a few tricks when it comes to collaboration and communication. We’ve had to learn how to over communicate and the art of meticulous project coordination.

Fortunately, with the surge in popularity of remote working, there are various powerful tools to help support us in this.

Slack: As we mentioned above, Slack is our “virtual office.” We usually ask our clients to create their own Slack team and invite us to it. From there we can have instant discussions, calls, share links, prototypes, inspiration -- the sky’s the limit.

Trello: This is our visual collaboration tool that we use for project management. It’s here that we map out site plans, phases and assign tasks to our team members. It’s also a great way to keep a birds eye view on progress, and be transparent about what’s being worked on, by who, and how far along it is.

Invision: We use this leading prototyping tool to preview our static designs for each screen. Feedback can be left by clicking anywhere on the screen which allows for a iterative, collaborative process in order to create a truly meaningful product!

But we never underestimate the value of face to face. Video/audio calls are great for discussions but depending on some project requirements, it’s worth making the trip for a face to face meeting.

How does our team communicate with each other?

Instant chat all day long: Slack, slack, slack! We have a fair few channels, dedicated to work and fun. We do a check in every morning so everyone has an idea of what everyone is working on. We’re always posting links to new plugins, design/code inspo, and of course memes; it’s a very sharing environment.

Monday morning huddles: These video calls usually last about an hour and they’re a great way of getting everyone ready and motivated on a Monday morning. We talk about our weekends, our strategy for the week ahead, and have general discussion and feedback about what other team members are working on.

Annual team retreats: We’re in the process of making this bi-annual to fit in conferences/summits. Our next team retreat is February 2019 in Budapest, Hungary! Stay tuned as we’ll probably write a blog post about it :)

Thanks for reading!