By Matt Farber
If you don’t know already, you will know shortly that SmartBug Media’s employees work all around the United States, with a couple employees in Canada and in Mexico. The trend of companies offering their employees to work from home is growing, and Ryan Malone has created an environment where the entire company is remote. There is no central office anywhere in the world. There is no sitting in traffic, no rushing to the coffee shop to caffeinate up before the meeting at 8 a.m., and, most importantly, no worrying about your dog being too lonely all day sitting at home without you.
With that being said, the question must be asked how does everyone stay connected? I’ve been working at SmartBug for quite some time now and have seen first-hand company growth and, really more importantly, the relationships made and strengthened within the company (including my relationships). I work with people from every different time zone and feel just as connected with one co-worker as the rest. Here are some ways I’ve seen us SmartBuggers stay connected over the years:
1. Zoom: Video Conferencing and Communicator
Zoom is essentially Skype for business. We talk to each other ALL DAY on Zoom. Most companies that are located in an office will typically have a similar technology. It allows us to instant message each other questions, thoughts, and, of course, jokes throughout the day. We have individual chats, groups chats, and anything in between. There is also a great app for smartphones that functions the same way as a text message. The nice thing about Zoom is that it’s our conferencing system as well on the client end. We use it to schedule, conduct, and record meetings with all our clients. It’s hard to even think where we’d be as a company if it wasn’t for Zoom.
2. Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
I must say, it’s been interesting getting to know all my co-workers through the different vices of technology. It’s something I’ve never really experienced before. Much like in life as you get to know new people and find common interests, you officially become “friends” once a friend request is sent and accepted on Facebook or a follow request is accepted and returned on Instagram or Twitter. This is where we really get to see each other live out their lives. We often are wondering who is up to what each weekend, with some folks usually sharing their exciting plans to see a concert, hike a mountain, or read a book. The plans come to life as photos, videos, and snaps shared throughout the networks, with like and comments coming in from co-workers.
It’s honestly a little shocking to me how much we are invested into each lives. I think this is a huge plus to having everyone working remotely. You’ve heard the saying, ”you can’t eat cake every day,” implying that you’ll eventually dislike cake if you do indeed eat it every day. I think this is partially the case for SmartBug employees. If we were in an office together every day, I don’t think the investment into each other’s lives would be as strong. It’s the unique remoteness that puts smiles on our faces when we call each other for a quick chat.
3. The Palooza
The Palooza is what brings it all together. It’s that one time of the year where we all get to meet each other at a work conference location TBD. It’s easily my favorite time of the year, when we’re actually able to meet our co-workers that we have been working with for perhaps more than 6 months, and it is a total game changer for everyone. Personally, this is where my relationships with co-workers have changed from “co-workers” to “friends.” Whenever that happens, you know you’re involved in something pretty special.
As I was writing this piece, I couldn’t help but think of “technology.” It’s a real simple answer the question at hand. This company wouldn’t be able to exist the way it does if it was, say, even 10 years ago. Technology has changed the game for just about everything we do on a daily basis. Everything is at the tip of our fingertips (literally) all day, every day, thus allowing us to stay connected with anyone who is located anywhere around the world.
How do you keep connected with co-workers who work outside of the office?