This article was first published on LinkedIn.
We’ve fully embraced being a remote company over the past 21 months. And what a journey it has been. In March of this year, Avenue became a fully remote company (officially)! Pre-pandemic we had a beautiful office space, team workstations and a conference set-up that allowed us to host clients, partners and team meetings. And, we were steps away from NE Alberta street’s most delicious food, drink and culture. However, as a team, we had only stepped foot inside our office a handful of times in those past 12 months, and the primary reason was to keep our office plants alive and watered. When our lease came up for renewal at the end of February, there was no logical reason to keep it. So, we didn't.
And a lot has changed since then!
The future is hybrid
I believe that the future of work is hybrid. Not just for the office environment, but for how companies, clients and partners will work together long-term. As the pandemic forced long-term closures and social distancing requirements, marketers, too, faced the cancellation or rescheduling of in-person events, networking, conferences, store grand openings and more. Virtual events and live-streaming were quick to become a mainstay as marketers pivoted to find new ways to engage with customers, prospects and the community. Using platforms like Zoom and technologies like AR and VR to create immersive experiences, hybrid options will provide increased access and comfortability to those who require or prefer the virtual environment.
And, shockingly, when we transitioned to being a fully remote company 21 months ago we continued to thrive, onboarding new clients, doing great work and enjoying less of a commute. When discussed at quarterly planning sessions, there was no sense of urgency to return to the office in our original full-time capacity. We were successfully doing our thing without the traditional butts-in-seats metric for productivity. We also found new ways to stay productive in the virtual landscape with The Top Five Work From Home Productivity Tips and to support our team with 5 Ways to Boost Company Morale While Working From Home Amidst COVID-19.
However, we did acknowledge that there are benefits to face-to-face collaboration on projects, brainstorming sessions and all-around fun that happens organically when in person that you just can't get over Zoom. And thus, Avenue continues to focus on what’s next. Finding and using the spaces of our agency friends and partners, getting together in person for socially distanced team activities (and perhaps creating a new office space where we can mingle together in the future 😉). Stay tuned!
How we’re leaning into the hybrid workplace
First things first. As we embraced the remote work environment and the realization that we were in it for the long haul, Avenue’s first order of business was to get every team member equipped with a state-of-the-art workstation. In fact, the transition to working from home 100% allowed us to upgrade our office equipment to brand new Fully sit-stand desks (bonus: they are a B Corp!), new monitors and desk chairs, and more. It’s important to Avenue that every team member has what they need to be comfortable and productive in their home office. New team members are now sent all of their virtual workstation items directly to their homes before their first day. Check out our Team Takeover highlight on Instagram to see our work-from-home set-ups and a day in the life of Avenue’s team members.
In addition to our individual home office set-ups, the hybrid model has allowed us to be more intentional about planning team-building activities, in-person quarterly and annual planning retreats and allowing for flexible schedules. It’s not uncommon for an all-team invite for a dog’s grooming appointment, midday workout or a walk around the block to show up on our calendars. We’re flexible so that our team members can have the freedom to take care of their personal lives around work.
And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the flexibility of being a remote and hybrid company has allowed team members to work abroad in Bologna, Italy for three months (and also from the Oregon Coast, Joshua Tree, California and on the road and on the go)!
The positive impact of the hybrid workplace at Avenue
As a team, we’ve cut down on our carbon emissions with employees no longer making commutes to and from the office. And, we’ve been able to take the savings from no longer carrying an office lease and reinvest it directly back into our team. This year, we also rolled out Avenue’s official Summer Holiday Week and Winter Holiday Week in my post about The Power of PTO and No Meeting Fridays where we close our virtual office to help our team members take a break. The past 21 months have been an opportunity to continually learn and adjust our practices to help our team build resilience and be empowered to rest and recharge. As we move into 2022, we will continue to learn and evolve while making progress towards being a better remote and hybrid workplace for our team.