It’s 3.30pm plus change. My three year old daughter is lying on my shoulder, recovering from one of the inevitable bugs that comes with nursery, while my semi-comatose wife is on the sofa next to me, currently in the trenches with the same sickness.
Not an ideal situation, for sure. But it’s also not game breaking. Ultimately we’re all human; we have human speed bumps every day that, with a bit of flexibility and proper communication, become complete non-issues. And everything’s fine as long as there’s still one hand to type…
That’s been a huge benefit to working in an entirely remote environment for such a long time. At this moment, almost all of the FWRD team has been together for at least eight years, and every member of staff is native to this kind of working style. That’s an amazing launchpad to build on; there’s already a deep and intrinsic understanding of staff as individuals, in their professional skill sets but also in their own lives.
It’s not a ‘shit-happens’ approach. It’s realising that everyone is navigating their own life baggage, and actually as an organisation we can be more empathetic to those situations. We can support staff in whatever way we can, and make Monday to Friday a welcoming environment where they can do their best work. This idea sits in every pillar of how FWRD operates.
Respect is non-negotiable. We are product first with one caveat. Everyone deserves to be a part of a workspace where they are treated with consideration, dignity and courtesy. We want our people to want to log in every morning and make cool shit together. If we don’t have that, there’s something wrong.
Create and collaborate. There are some outstanding professionals at FWRD, in design, operations, merchandising and more, but none of us would produce our best work without each other. Moreover, we have a hugely diverse and global clientele. If we’re going to match their ambitions, as well as our own, we have to actively engage with the creative ideas of others. There’s a reason the fusion dance was so important in Dragon Ball Z*. Ultimately, proper communication, transparency, and an open mind (both internally and on client side) are the most important factors when building a great product, whether that’s digital product, merch and apparel or any other creative.
*This is precisely the reason for collaboration - there is sincere doubt that many readers (if any) will understand the reference.
Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. Yes we have working hours and we get the need to be present. But we also realise that productivity is volatile; no one is at 100% all the time, and 9am to 5pm doesn’t suit everyone. The important thing is to set expectations. Deadlines are paramount, as are proper briefs!
Of course, like anything, remote work in a creative environment isn’t without its challenges. It demands discipline, self-motivation and above all a fundamental understanding of the people you’re working with. But with the right foundations, the benefits can be bountiful.
So as my daughter now snores on my shoulder, and I develop carpal tunnel in my right hand, I’m grateful. If you’re in a remote team, embrace the positives. And if you’re considering making the shift, I hope this little insight helps you see the glowing potential of a proper work-life balance.
Until next time my mammals,