While lockdown has been a challenging time for everyone, we’ve discovered some unexpected benefits for the way we work as a team. Here, we outline the way ahead for Rare Breed for the rest of 2020 – and beyond.
I’m a fan of new year’s resolutions – from the mundane (“Do more batch cooking!”) to the aspirational (“Learn Italian!”). But I’m not sure it ever occurred to me to really aim for the kind of change that would make a serious difference to the working lives of myself and my colleagues. More specifically, I took for granted that ‘office work’ happened in offices unless there was a very good reason to log in from home.
The enforced changes heralded by lockdown have given us all a real chance to reflect on the way ahead – from Tony, who has gained an extra five hours a day (yes, five!!) by losing his commute to Rob who has discovered the simple pleasure of taking a team conference call in the garden. Amidst the anxiety and general gloom, we’ve all found some distinct positives in terms of our work-life balance.
Critically, it hasn’t affected our ambitions for Rare Breed one jot – quite the opposite in fact. It was vital for us to ensure that our clients received the same level of service and value that we’ve always been so proud of.
So where does that leave us for the rest of 2020 and beyond? We thought it would be good to share some of our plans for the agency as we navigate this road together:
• First and foremost, the Rare Breed team will continue to work predominantly from our home offices for the time being. As a small team, we can take everyone’s situation into consideration and we’re fortunate that we all have the ability to work well from home. We will, of course, continue to review this regularly. We like to think of it as a move from one main office to several satellite offices around London and the Home Counties.
• We have invested in all the necessary equipment to ensure that everyone has access to everything they need to be effective – both in terms of the technology side of things – but also comfortable, optimised working conditions; for those of us the wrong side of 40, a good desk chair and a decent sized screen go a long way in avoiding eye strain and achy backs!
• We’ve adapted our ways of collaborating – our Monday WIP quickly moved to Zoom and we’ve diarised other catch ups that might not have needed to be formalised in an office environment – new business check ins, marketing chats etc. etc. We’re quick to pick up the phone to one another, have an impromptu video call or share screenshots of work in progress – we know these little things have a huge cumulative impact on our connectedness to one another.
• One of the biggest challenges has been adapting our lines of communication to handle the kind of niggly admin that seemed to get effortlessly dealt with when everyone was office-based. Again, size (or lack of it!) has been our friend here – with a very ‘hands-on’ senior team, we avoid the layers of account management where things can get lost. Not being afraid to get our hands dirty is definitely an asset in this climate and the simple art of an email recap and (at least) a weekly check-in call go a long way in ensuring that nothing slips through the net.
• We were also keen to acknowledge that, for all the benefits of remote working, some things are better face-to-face and in a recent meeting, Rob summed up many of our feelings when he said, ‘There’s no-one to high five when something goes well’. Similarly, with business development high on my personal priority list, I’ve learned the hard way that pitches and even new business meetings work better when at least some of us are in the same room and I miss the ease of building chemistry in person.
• As such, our set up now allows for face-to-face where it is simply the best option. We’re strict about monthly catch ups – part of which will be for work, but part for the high-fiving and social interaction we all need. We also have a hub for other in-person get-togethers – whether that’s to prepare a pitch, lead a new business meeting or simply thrash out a plan for a new project with a colleague.
• The same will apply to our clients; we’re keen to accommodate everyone’s preferences and personal circumstances, so Zoom remains our number one go to. But for clients who are back in the office – or whose home office happens to be close to ours – a meeting over a coffee will be more than welcome.
So, there you have it – the same Rare Breed just with a few tweaks that enable us to strike a great balance for ourselves and our clients. It’s a set-up that maximises efficiencies and maintains awesome creative output and thoughtful client services – while also ensuring that victories get celebrated, wounds get salved and, let’s be honest, in this sunny summer, G&Ts get drunk together every once in a while.
Here’s to the resolution we never thought to make before – we wish it hadn’t taken a global pandemic to force our hand but we’re grateful for the opportunity.
Whether it’s on a screen or in person, we look forward to seeing you soon!