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How remote working technology is helping us think bigger


August 6, 2020

When I went freelance two years ago, I was surprised how remote working technology made collaboration as easy as leaning across a desk in the office. Instant messaging, video calls and cloud computing allowed me to work seamlessly with others in different continents and time zones.

I found remote teamwork incredibly productive. It’s not only quick to fire off a couple of one-liners in Slack or comments on Google Docs: most communications are focused and deliberate, which speeds things up. Being able to tune into a Slack channel to catch up on a project, or tap into Hoxby’s diverse community of talent for advice, can really keep projects moving.

Online collaboration tools: on the up

But it’s not just freelancers – businesses all over the world are adopting instant messaging such as Yammer or Slack. The latter now has one billion weekly messages, and 87% of users say that it has improved communication and collaboration inside their organisation, stating a 32% increase in team productivity.

Everyone you chat to at Hoxby confirms that Slack is at the heart of the community and makes them feel connected and part of a team. Katerina Gilbert, marketing director at Hoxby says: ‘It’s amazing how we are all local, yet global. We work from home or a shared workspace, and yet we support each other in ways I never felt during 15-plus years in an office.’

The case for remote working tools

Jessica Gray, a digital project manager at Hoxby, says: ‘I believe people working remotely feel more supported at Hoxby than in previous traditional office environments. Hoxby has created dedicated channels in Slack to talk about things that make us human, like our interests – books, being parents, sports, football, food, pets and so on.

‘We invite everybody to join these channels and be themselves. Slack is particularly effective for teams who understand the value of communication and transparency. What’s the cliché, ‘it takes teamwork to make the dream work?’ Well, it’s true. The team must be willing to share and participate, to ask questions and be personal and real.’

Andy Williams, operations director at Hoxby, calls Slack ‘our virtual office’. He says: ‘It’s where we come together to chat about personal things and projects with clients, as well as keeping in touch with the Hoxby community.’

‘Things move a lot quicker on Slack. It seems self-organising. With any project, you have the goals you would like to achieve, but there is no chief whip. Everybody chips in and contributes. It makes it a lot less hierarchical than the traditional office, where you must get sign-off by a manager or specialist. Anybody can join in the discussion and help move things forward. It’s a very concise way to collaborate that has its own dynamic.’

He thinks that millennials and organisations that work remotely, like Hoxby, are ahead of the curve, driving a communication revolution, with other generations and traditional offices slower to catch on.

People are embracing the revolution

Jon Reay, CEO of rewrite Digital and digital office tech guru at Hoxby, says: ‘It’s not just the technology that’s changed, it’s people’s openness, and that’s really critical to making it work. The more teams adopt such tools, the more value they bring.’

But for me, by far the most significant change has been that – somewhat paradoxically – working from home has massively broadened the range of people I collaborate with and, with it, my skills and professional horizon. In the last couple of years, I have done everything from writing for corporate clients to essays and features for a wide range of national and international publications, working with people from Ukraine to the US. It’s been an incredibly exciting time and has opened up the world for me.’

Even the economy is changing

These technologies don’t just enable people to choose when and how they work, but help organisations like Hoxby stay agile and respond to rapidly changing economic conditions. It’s clear that this remote working technology is starting to disrupt traditional structures. Businesses have to manage employees working outside the conventional 9-5 working ‘window’, with implications for travel infrastructure and physical office space (hot topics, of course, during Covid-19) – as well as a significant global trend towards self-employment.

Jon Reay says: ‘When more and more people choose to fight against the daily commute, building the best teams means looking beyond your doorstep. Hoxby’s global community of more than thousand exceptional freelancers embraces technology and online collaboration tools in innovative ways to deliver exceptional results for our clients.’

As a tech writer, I have observed repeatedly how technology amplifies societal trends – good and bad. On one hand, we see more digital services platforms, such as copy mills, which often drive prices and quality down in a depressing race to the bottom. On the other hand, there is the immense potential and promise of technology to emphasise and celebrate what makes us human, putting individuals, communities and ultimately humanity, at centre stage.

The result: greater synergy

Technology can automate repetitive tasks to free us up to be more creative and work from home. We can pick up our kids from school or have a work/life balance that enables us to thrive professionally and personally .

But digital technology can also help us harness our collective intelligence, creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. From Wikipedia to dynamic projects on Slack, or local environmental pressure groups, these platforms can make us come together in new, spectacular and beautiful ways.

Hoxby’s virtual office

  • Slack: this is crammed with channels from #thenewsroom and #hoxby_brandstrategy to Hoxby’s special interests and causes, such as #theworkwithoutbias and #world365loop. As well as channels for each project, it even has #thewatercooler, where people can go for light relief.
  • Cloud computing (The Cloud or AWS Cloud): tools such as GSuite make collaborating on documents easy and seamless, even when you work different hours and are based in different countries. Google Docs is proven to make comments and revisions quick and easy.
  • Basecamp and Trello: Hoxby uses online project and task management platforms to allocate responsibilities, schedule tasks, create to-do lists and track project progress.
  • MyHoxby: Hoxby’s own platform gathers information on associates’ skills and preferences to match talent to projects. It also offers a Wiki with answers to almost anything about Hoxby.

Learn more about Hoxby

Have you got an important campaign to land but your team are unable to work? Do you want to know how to maintain an adaptive workforce? Is your organisation spending too much senior management time on admin tasks?

Hoxby’s Marketing, PR, Creative, HR, Admin and Futureproofing experts are ready to support you with technology-led teamwork and multi-disciplined talent.

Whatever your sector or discipline, there’s no better way to get expertise, capacity and flexibility to power your brand.

Get in touch now.

Sonia Klug is a journalist, content strategist and copywriter and part of the Hoxby community.

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