Offices are dying, and there’s no going back.
I know, that sounds dramatic. But we all experienced the 2020/2021 shift in working where we were forced to work from home for nearly 2 years straight.
Many companies thrived during this time, and employees discovered new benefits they loved, so when companies started to force teams back into the office it was no surprise that many people fought for remote work.
Skyward started out in 2021 and we always planned to be fully remote. By embracing the benefits of remote working, we’ve managed to succeed where other agencies have struggled, working with teams across the world to create brilliant solutions for their needs.
There are certainly good arguments for and against remote working. At Skyward we’re now facing the decision of either choosing a location to base ourselves, or sticking with remote working permanently.
Here’s why we’re going to stay remote.
Back in 2018 I used to commute for 90 minutes, every day. I’d wake up early to get ready for work, then battle my way to the train through the hustle and bustle of everybody else on their way to work. I’d get to work groggy (and sometimes late if I’d missed my train or it was just incredibly busy) and be expected to put out my best work for the next 8 hours.
Let’s do the math. 235 working days per year, with a 90 minute commute works out at the equivalent of 14.7 full days spent commuting every year.
Some people are their most productive immediately after waking up so commuting instantly sets them up to be less effective throughout the rest of the day. And even for those who are more productive later on in the day, if we ask them to commute then asking them to spend a huge chunk of every day on the train or in a car at their own expense - something that’s completely unnecessary.
We don’t deny that there may be some people who work better when surrounded by people, but we believe that giving time (and your commuting budget) back, allowing you to sleep in if you prefer, and generally letting our team take their day in the way which works best for them will allow them to give us their most productive hours while getting more time for themselves.
When you walk into the office in the morning the first thing you’re likely to do is grab a coffee and catch up with others. It’s a great time to catch up with your colleagues, but eventually you feel like you should probably get to work so you sit down at your desk, remind yourself about what you were doing yesterday, and put some noise cancelling headphones on so that you can focus.
But wait a second. We’re spending all that time travelling into an office to grab coffee and then sit in silence trying to block out the noise around us?
Working in tech requires lots of focus work. There’s lots of tasks to achieve and difficult problems to solve and the majority of them can’t be done while chatting with our colleagues (even if that does sound fun). When you want to really get shit done, the headphones go on.
Offices are incredibly distracting places to be and while home can be distracting too, it’s an environment that you can fully control. Fewer distractions means more time spent being able to focus, increasing the productivity of everyone in the team.
Offices are expensive. The average cost for office space per person per year is £8000 in Bristol, which is where our offices would be if we had them.
I’m a fairly frugal person, and that’s a lot of money to spend on a desk space that almost everyone has at home anyway.
I’d much rather give that money directly to the people doing great work to help Skyward grow, encouraging them to do their best work and incentivising them to stay at Skyward instead of going to another company that offers an office, but with a significant pay cut.
Of course, taking offices out of the equation doesn’t just mean that people can be paid more. It opens up a whole variety of other benefits which can be taken advantage of.
If our team want to travel while working then they can. As long as they have a good internet connection, we’re happy for them to work from anywhere, allowing them to make long term trips to visit family or just travel the world.
If instead they’d prefer to live in places where there’s no traffic, clean air, and cheaper (or just affordable) accommodation then they can do that too. Not everyone wants to live in the middle of the overcrowded and expensive tech-hub cities of the world.
We strongly believe that by giving people the choices to build a life that works best for them will allow them to be more fulfilled, and in turn perform better in their job.
As Skyward continues to grow we’ll also want to make sure we’re attracting the best talent.
But the best talent doesn’t live within a 30 minute radius of me, or my nearest city.
We want to make sure that we are always in a position to hire the best talent that we can attract, and while we may not be able to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Google or Netflix in terms of compensation, there are loads of incredibly talented developers who want more flexibility to choose how they work which is a benefit we excel in.
This leads to even better support for our clients, who also exist around the world. By working with staff and freelancers across the world, we answer the question of if we’ll be capable of working effectively despite long distances as we’re constantly doing it within our own team.
Additionally, by providing staff across the world we can keep making progress for more hours of the day, and are more likely to be able to answer client questions or feedback sooner.
At the end of the day, this is what matters the most. Offering all of the above benefits wouldn’t matter if our team weren’t productive because of it.
But the reality is that our team are likely more productive working remotely than they would be in an office. Our amazing team simply wouldn’t be the same talented individuals if we restricted them to an office. Our perks, including being fully remote, attracted them and we simply wouldn’t have been able to hire these talented individuals in the first place without offering remote working.
We do what works for Skyward, and that means finding people who love working remotely and incentivising them (with the benefits above) to do their best work.
And as a team who cares about results above all else, hiring highly talented people for the job who are self-motivated to deliver their best work for our clients is what matters the most.