One of the most common questions I receive about running Wember is about our work-from-anywhere business structure. Our company does not have an office. Yes, the cobbler’s son has no shoes, and we, who manage design and construction, do not have our own office. How could this be? Let me explain how it all started.
After winning a large program of work with Anythink Library, I hired my first employee; I was ready for the big time, and we started looking for an office. After the first project kick-off meeting with our client, she casually walked by one of the offices in their administration building and said casually, “here is your office.” We settled in and delayed renting. Our next client went on to say, “…and here’s your office.” We quickly realized the benefits of working alongside our clients and questioned our intent to rent.
Over time we began to notice other benefits of maintaining this model. As a start-up business in a competitive market, it was not easy to convince talented professionals to join the team. Job seekers tend to put a tight radius around their home-to-work commute. I decided to run ads without a location, and the resume submissions increased by 200%. By offering a flexible home base, we were able to pull from a larger pool of higher-quality candidates. The result has been a geographic advantage with our staff positioned to serve clients in Wyoming, Northern Colorado, the Front Range, and Southern Colorado.
When we started our virtual work structure, we were often dismissed as not being a real business; it is gratifying to now be considered progressive as the success of this model is recognized. Not having a central office fosters a skill set and mindset that allows for streamlined productivity. We have established communication methodologies and developed systems to allow us to stay connected.
We are fortunate to have been born this way because I don’t believe you can have it both ways, meaning that you either work from an office or you work from home. I have talked to many colleagues who are productive when leaving the office to work without disruption, and I have talked to many more that can’t make the transition to working from home for only one or two days a week.
I love and loathe the countless images of home-based workers in their fuzzy slippers; the reality though, is that our team and many others are not a work-from-home company; we are a work-from-anywhere company.
I despise the blogs about the battles of working from home versus working in an office to somehow decide that one is better than the other. They both have advantages and disadvantages, here are some things I believe to be true.
- Every day is bring-your-dog-to-work day. I don’t need to worry about Michael Vic puppy parties.
- I don’t have to do anyone’s dishes or take out anyone’s trash, but my own; I also don’t have to clean out a fridge.
- I get to use my toilet. I have heard of employees driving 30 minutes home and back as they won’t utilize the works facilities!
- We like each other, let’s face it; we (myself included) have annoying habits. Be it the person that talks too loud on the phone or passes gas; we don’t have to deal with it.
- Start early or work late. As a business owner, it is easy to micromanage, but I have learned you shouldn’t force normal hours. Some of our staff begin their day at 5 a.m. and some, like me, that work well into the evening.
- There is something that feels good about not burning the extra gas and utilities.
- I know that the images that come up when you enter “work from anywhere” are total B.S. If I am on the beach, it’s not to get work done, it’s to surf.
- Summers are amazing, and while I like my team, I love my family. We work a lot of hours, but there is nothing like having lunch and dinner with your kids.
- This structure requires a lot of trust and a solid backlog. There is a responsibility not to ruin it for the team. If you’re sick, kids have events, or you’re not working, we requirement honest transparency.
- You have to learn how to balance your work; there is something finite about leaving a nice office to check out for the evening.
I have many people that tell me, that would never work for me because of ___(blank). The truth is that nearly any professional service provider can conduct their business from a remote setting, but culturally it may not work. Sometimes I wish we had an office and then I commute to a meeting during rush hour, pay to park, take the elevator, and smell the burnt toast and decide, I’m good.
Paul Wember, Owner’s Representative