I recently noted with interest AirBnB’s new “work from anywhere” model and it got me thinking.. is such a model reserved for travel based multi-nationals or could it also be practical for a Staffordshire (and recently Dubai) based digital agency?

The AirBnB logic is certainly strong; 

  1. You can work from home or the office
  2. You can move anywhere in the country you work in and your compensation won’t change
  3. You have the flexibility to travel and work around the world
  4. We’ll meet up regularly for gatherings
  5. We’ll continue to work in a highly coordinated way

And, one would assume the model would appeal to a wide audience, particularly millennials and Gen X’ers.. So, in turn the impact on recruitment we can sensibly expect would be positive.

Given the current talent vacuum in the digital space, effectively casting a global net will surely relieve the recruitment headaches currently felt by agencies across the UK.  Plus, adding multi-cultural talent to the staff roster will inevitably bring much needed flavour to content and campaigns. So two BIG ticks in the upside box. 

And what about retention? Staff retention remains a problem in digital agencies. Wonder why so many marketing agencies run a continuous recruitment drive? As demand continues to outstrip supply, good people are hard to find and often move onwards quickly. Driven by “culture” and progression, the trend is for people to hop from agency to agency looking for the perfect team, the perfect fit and the perfect package. One could consider this a “unicorn hunt”, however it’s a trend that shows no sign of relenting. 

“Culture” is a word that is understandably prevalent in modern business but arguably overused. I often wrestle with the question “what is good business culture?” Many misinterpret culture as Friday socials, beer fridges and meditation zones. I however consider culture as inclusion, effective communication, understanding, empathy and generally encouraging everybody to act in a way their mother would approve of. 

BUT, is this enough? And is it possible to create culture if people are not high-fiving each other in a biophilic office?

..I believe that yes, it is. 

Culture goes far beyond physical and is more a physiological phenomenon. Therefore, providing people buy in to remote processes, and work in close and respectful virtual collaboration, a positive culture will be a natural bi-product. 

So another two quite sizeable ticks.. I am beginning to feel that the upside may outweigh the downside..

In actual fact, the only downsides that I can see are that productivity may suffer and the “input” and interaction may not be as strong if we are content whiteboarding virtually rather than in a room..

Covid taught us many things, one of which was that when people are more isolated and less distracted, productivity increases. Our business grew by 132% between 2020 and 2021 yet the staff numbers only swelled by 40%. This was due to the productivity of our existing team booming.. this was reinforced when we switched to hybrid working and immediately felt understaffed! And as far as “input” goes, our client satisfaction continued to be high during this same period with > 90% of our client pool committing to further retainers for 2022 and 2023..  which broadly indicates our content is good and a job well done. 

So if my maths serves correctly, that’s two negatives becoming positives and 6 HUGE ticks in the yes box..

As you can never argue with math, after some reflection, we have decided to follow AirBnB’s lead and switch to a “work from anywhere” model. So much so that we as owners have tested the theory and worked the last week from Dubai. Not only developing our UAE organisation but also managing our UK business. And the outcome, long days due to the time difference but no negative impact whatsoever. All work is complete, on time and in full.. The model works and it works well so let’s see what it brings for Socially Grown. Hopefully swathes of super talented individuals from around the globe to compliment our team and help us progress from great to even better!

If you are a digital marketer, designer or content producer and like the sound of what we do, please reach out to me by email ben.parry@sociallygrown.co.uk. Your location is not a concern providing you can operate largely within GMT or GST (GMT +4 hours). We really would love to hear from you and we never stop looking for the best people to join our growing organisation.



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