For outsiders—"work from workers" as we call them—working remotely is something that can only be understood in the abstract, perhaps as a series of half-formed images linked together like a New York Times trend piece.
A portly, unshaven man in a half-open bathrobe slouches over a laptop in his mother's basement. A day-old bowl of cereal congeals on his coffee table.
A middle-aged woman surrounded by cats sits before a desktop monitor. A kitten paws at the cursor moving around the screen. Two overweight tabbies nap on the warm printer.
A twenty-something, goateed techie sips on his mochachino in the corner of a coffee shop. His MacBook Air buzzes with activity. "I have already surpassed you," he whispers to no one in particular.
The reality of working remotely is quite different, of course. We don't bother putting on a bathrobe. Our twenty cats aren't allowed in the office. And we only drink loose-leaf green tea.
Most importantly, our choice to work in a virtual office arrangement isn't some bohemian lifestyle choice—it's an operational necessity.
Startup creative agencies are dynamic operations—and I don't mean that in some "synergy optimizing" buzzword type of way—characterized by daily shifts in the volume and type of work produced. Bringing employees and contractors together in a geographically-fixed office space simply wouldn't be an efficient way for us to function. That's not to say that some agencies—particularly larger, established operations—don't maintain central offices and workspaces. I'm only six streetcar stops from Wieden + Kennedy, after all. But for us, this arrangement works very well.
The Beutler Ink team is spread across six states (and one District), and we work with talented graphic designers from around the globe. This arrangement allows us to provide a "full-court press" throughout the national workday, and gives us greater flexibility in responding to client communications and requests.
And—full disclosure—once you've worked a full day without pants, it's nearly impossible to acclimate back into a civilized office environment.