Friday, January 18, 2013

A professional home offices delivers key business benefits - especially when it's snowing ...

Recently, I was lucky to become the owner of a large, detached house. An important part of deciding where to move to was the requirement for room suitable for a professional home office - though at first glance, things were not so obviously promising ...

Many businesses think of the home office as the 'poor man's cousin' to a leased office but for E-creation, our driver was aspirational ... the chance to make a more creative & effective working environment for the team.

In December 2012, research by Stamford University indicated that employees working from home outperformed office-based co-workers by 13% (Working From Home research paper). Over the years, E-creation has continually tuned the work environment to match the character & fluidity our team - and last year we decided to close our Wallisdown offices in favour of the 'professional home office'.

When setting up the new office, we had several core requirements:

  • Desk-space for up to four people
  • Dedicated meeting area for up to two clients
  • Character to reflect a creative agency
  • Own entrance / toilet facilities
  • High speed Internet access with 100Mb connection
  • Sufficient insulation to allow music & lively 'discussion' to be had freely
After 2 weeks of hard work sanding, striping, painting, varnishing & working 'desk dynamics', we migrated the E-creation offices from serviced offices at the Enterprise Pavillion in Wallisdown to the fresh new home office in Branksome.

So, sitting here this morning watching the snow falling, I have smiled at the numerous Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIN posts about closed offices & travel issues. My 30 second morning commute, has allowed a fresh & ready arrival to be creative (though the 10 minute walk for some team members was a touch 'brisk').

Running a creative consultancy does by it's nature require an environment that fosters lateral thinking, so in addition to key press publications, our inspiration wall has fossilised fish, dinosaurs, plants and even footprints that are millions of years old.

You might be wondering what type of companies work with other companies with home offices. E-creation provides serious creative & consultancy for many the world's top companies (such as IBM, 3com, RBS & London Underground), with professionalism being essential. Although we work in the 'intellectual capital' age, corporate cultures often place value on 'large & physical', working with people who are part of a group (reflecting the 'Wisdom of the Crowds' ethos).

E-creation's rather 'ephemeral' service (solving problems & making businesses 'cool'), we need to ensure the most professional image, which we facilitate through technology:
  • High speed Internet (100Mb is far faster than anything we could access in serviced offices)
  • Dedicated phone lines with outsourced reception (to filter sales calls & unwanted distractions)
  • HD projector for 'life-size' SKYPE conferences
At heart, the professional home office allows E-creation to focus on the job at hand without distraction, deploying intellectual & creative capital cost-effectively to clients. When working on projects with larger teams, SKYPE enables screen sharing from remote locations to see creative work as it is happening live (and virtual extension of workspace through HD projection from other offices).

We are investigating creating 'virtual water cooler' devices with a two-way connection over the Internet to allow random 'water cooler meetings' to occur with companies across the world, both large corporate & small home office.

E-creation is driven by cross pollination of ideas - and most great ideas occur when people from difference disciplines meet & talk, something which can be difficult in a home office ... but as usual, E-creation has come up with the solution.