Why you should let PR people work from home
10th November 2016
There’s only a handful of things you need in order to make working at home, or remotely, successful. Good wifi connection, a working laptop and trust. Yet it still seems that a majority of agencies and brands struggle with the idea of loosening the reins on their teams and giving them the opportunity to work outside of the confines of a (usually, hectic) office.
We’re working in the most connected world there’s ever been. We can email, call, text, Facetime, Whatsapp, Skype, DM, @ mention and even Snapchat our colleagues wherever they are. And it’s not just our workmates, this is how we connect with the rest of the word so we can contact journalists, influencers and agents in a number of ways too. We don’t need to be chained to a desk to do this, so it seems fascinating that a job all about communication is still predominantly seen as an office-based career. Why? We could be easily be doing it from the comfort of our own homes or the corner of a cosy coffee shop every now and then.
At Alfred, the entire team works remotely every Tuesday, as part of Work-fits, a programme of employee well-being and work-life balance benefits. Yes, every single week we all have a day based out of the office. You’ll find us spread across London and the South East, in cafes, hotels and meeting spaces. Of course, we will occasionally take advantage of a rare sunny day to head to the park and work in the sunshine, or skip the cold and rain for a day in favour of the warmth of our own home. But location doesn’t matter, because everyone is trusted to crack on with their work, stay connected with each other and plough through their workload like any normal day.
We stay in touch all day, using Skype messenger to fly across quick questions and responses and to make free calls to each other and clients. Google Hangout works perfectly for client ‘meetings’ and a failsafe conference line ensures we can catch up as a team, even if someone’s travelling.
Dedicated time out of the office helps to prioritise important PR actions which can otherwise drop to the bottom of the list, when the busyness of the office gets in the way. There’s time ready and waiting to be filled with networking breakfasts, coffees and lunches, without feeling rushed to get back to the office, because you can pick-up on your laptop as soon as the bill is paid. Those dull ,but all-important supplier contracts you keep meaning to tweak, or the expenses you’re due to submit? Done in five minutes when there’s so distracting desk chat about last night’s Netflix binge.
Importantly, remote working gives everyone the chance to get out of the PR office bubble and into the real world. We can observe groups of mums catching up over coffee in our local town centres, soak up the atmosphere in a creative shared working space or spend a lunch hour exploring the latest gallery exhibition before heading back to the café to overhear tourist chat. Working remotely provides insights and inspiration aplenty.
There’s a final reason why flexible working benefits brands and agencies. It impacts your biggest assets, your people.
The odd day of skipping the commute it a godsend, saving precious hours which can instead be spent on a hobby, in the gym, or maybe just having a well-deserved lie-in. Parents get breakfasts and and tea times back with their kids and those who live outside of London can save money on train fares.
Of course, there’s no substitute for the buzz of busy team sell-in on launch day, or the creative ideas that can get bounced around when we’re working across the desk from colleagues. But there can be a balance. Working in a team environment 80% of the week may be important, but there’s room to spend the other 20% elsewhere to gain insights and ideas from a host of other avenues. We can only take positives from the experience, so it’s time for the industry take notice, get less office-orientated and out into the world we’re constantly communicating with.
Article written by Hannah Lynch, account director at Alfred