Why we chose to build our agency in-house and come back into the office.
We get it. The world has changed.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the past couple of years, it is that you don’t need an office.
You don’t even need your team to be in the same country.
Let alone the same space.
How amazing is that? It’s opened up the jobs market, and created opportunities for professionals in all industries to do the jobs they love, wherever they are.
It’s also created awesome opportunities for employers to work with incredible talent while saving a few bucks on the traditional office space, equipment and a few extra pennies on keeping the tea and coffee (and biscuit) trolley stocked.
So, it’s a fair question when a client or prospect asks us, ‘So, do you outsource your animators and designers?’
In fact, it’s a pretty frequent question. It’s so frequent to be honest, that we’ve even created a template email response. (it’s all about efficiency after all.)
It goes something like this…
‘Great question there, amigo! Actually, we don’t, all our talented creatives are in-house, in the studio. The only thing we outsource (for obvious reasons) are our voiceover artists. Everything from scriptwriting, to concept art, storyboarding and production is done by our amazing team. We’ve invested quite heavily in our people. In fact, our lead animator has worked for the likes of Channel 4 and CBeebies and even worked on the Felix adverts. If that sounds like something you’re looking for, let’s talk more.’
So, what’s the deal?
We believe we do our best work when we’re in the same space and when we know each other so well that collaboration comes as naturally as brushing our teeth in the morning.
It’s not for everyone.
There certainly is no right or wrong way to do business or build a team.
For us, however, it’s the only way.
Here’s why we chose to build our agency in-house and come back into the office.
Culture eats strategy for breakfast
From our first coaching session with our business coach, before we’d even dreamt of building a team. A non-negotiable for us was to build a business where creatives could belong.
Where personality was paramount.
Where dull was dismissed.
We’d (myself and co-founder and husband Dave) had never quite belonged in any workplace and it was super important for us to never feel those Monday blues, and never make anyone else feel that either.
To do this, in the way we’d dreamed, meant we wanted to cultivate an environment, where everyone could feel at home, feel heard, seen and valued and belong as part of a strong and tight-knit team.
Culture is important. Building a great one is non-negotiable.
It’s harder to do that if we’re all on different continents.
Not impossible, granted. Definitely harder, though.
That’s why it’s important to us that we’re all in the same space. It’s important that we eat lunch together, socialise together, and share chit-chat.
Those conversations around the coffee machine, are golden.
Belonging to a tribe
What you get through community is a sense of belonging. To feel connected, united and accepted by your people is human nature.
Even if we do work from home, the likelihood is that you’ll either spend most of your time at your desk, staring at your screen or on zoom with your co-workers.
Sure, working from home allows for a certain amount of flexibility. But the fact is we’re still more likely to be spending a great deal of time with our co-workers (even if it is over zoom).
So, it’s important that we all like who we work with, whether we’re working remotely on in a studio environment.
For others, who live and work alone, it can feel isolating and lonely.
For most (in our case anyway), they found creative collaboration more difficult virtually.
It’s one of the reasons, as soon as we were able to safely, we headed back into the studio together.
With the culture we’d built, there was no pushback. Everyone was keen and enthusiastic to rejoin their tribe and continue making magic together, in the same space.
Which was a magical thing to witness.
A tribe at work can support everyone through life’s challenges and still allow us to thrive at work. A tribe creates meaningful relationships – and this is what creates longevity for a team in the workplace.
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you have a need for connections with others.
These relationships are important.
The fact is, as humans we crave connection. And connection is easier to achieve in person.
Technology helps us connect, but is inadequate because we can’t read nonverbal cues as well as we can in person.
That’s why we’ve built our team in-house and come back into the office.
Productivity Vs Structure
This may be a controversial one.
Sean Bisceglia, CEO of Curion – a consumer research company, says that the productivity rate of their employees was through the roof during remote working.
Great news! One more point for working remotely and outsourcing talent.
Who needs to commute to a studio when this proves we don’t need to?
Let me ponder on this.
With remote working, comes flexibility and managing your own time. Great news for some, who excel at this and are also able to leave their work behind, and separate work and personal lives.
But for others, it can be a struggle to find that cut-off point.
When employees are sending emails at 1 AM, that may seem more productive. But what are the potential downfalls?
Teams can feel like they need to be constantly aware of what’s going on at work, especially if another team member you’re collaborating with is on a different schedule from you.
Sure, we could be working with a team across continents, and different time zones and still get the work done, right?
What’s the impact? Burnout.
The structure of team and studio life helps teams set goals for the day, and time slots for certain activities (without the distraction of life admin at home) and make it easier to clock off, leave work behind (physically and mentally) and relax and recharge for the evening.
“For all that we’ve been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other,” said Apple’s CEO Tim Cook while talking about Apple’s new policy on welcoming employees back in the office.
Our culture cannot be restricted only to zoom meetings or occasional team meet-ups.
A team member’s potential and productivity can be nurtured even with an interaction at the coffee machine or sharing lunch with a colleague.
Even (in our case) a lunchtime communal walk with our Chief of Sleep & Snacks, Ruby.
Check out our other article on why office dogs are the best, here.
All these activities ultimately benefit team engagement and, as a result – the company in the long run.
Being together also makes us all brainiacks. Who knew?
Researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) found that when people spend more time interacting with each other, they displayed improved mental function.
Interactions literally increase cognitive performance.
Technology is great. Fact.
It’s also necessary.
But it can also stunt idea generation, and make communication more difficult (especially with larger teams).
Delays and glitches can also cause miscommunication, misunderstandings and even lost or glossed-over AMAZING thoughts and ideas.
Would you prefer to mozy on over to a team member’s desk to share an idea, ask a question or see if they’re feeling okay that day?
Or would you rather schedule a video call? (Which might be across time zones or in a week or two when they’re free next.)
Here’s some more science for you…additional research, also from UM, demonstrated that productivity doubles when teams work together in dedicated rooms.
And we don’t think they meant virtual ones.
For us, familiarity, and regular contact build trust.
Trust builds great teams.
Being together can reinforce a sense of purpose.
It reinforces the sense that we all share a common mission.
Our mission is to help businesses communicate better with their audience by helping them understand anything and everything, with spellbinding, captivating design and animation.
The theories behind goal contagion suggest that when you see the actions of other team members, you often adopt their same goals.
We’ve found that being around a team who are working toward a common mission reinforces that goal in everyone in the workplace.
When people feel connected to the mission and vision of the business, it improves their overall happiness at work.
So, surely being physically disconnected can affect that feeling of connection.
Believing in the business and how it wants to change in the world, helps teams feel a sense that a job is a vocation or calling and not just a way to pay the bills.
In the end…
Building our team in-house, full-time does not mean a lack of flexibility. In fact, we’ve built a culture on understanding that life happens, and adaptability and understanding are crucial. We don’t lock everyone in the studio from 9-5.
To us, it means community. Belonging.
To us, it means creating the best work, collaboratively.
To us, it means, delivering the more creative, custom, thoughtful and effective brand and animation possible.
To us, it’s about putting the well-being of the team at the heart of everything and knowing your team will look after your clients and the business will thrive.
If you’re looking for a magical partner to your purpose-driven brand and to work with a super talented team, all under one roof. Get in touch with the wizards today for an initial no-obligation discovery session.
We promise it’ll be the most spellbinding thing you do this year.