Tuesday Tonic: Remote doesn’t mean distant

{Tonic: (noun) something with an invigorating effect}

So with my relocation to a far-flung corner of Scotland imminent, I thought a little post about the benefits of remote working was called for.

Remote working works. I already know this, but how can I convince you of this too?

How many of you use email on a daily basis? Hands up now. No hiding. How many of you use conference calls with clients to save time travelling to their offices? All of you I’d guess. Email synced to your iPhone or Blackberry? Me too! So already, you’re using tools to communicate with clients and suppliers that are not on your doorstep. But email and conference calls are just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg when it comes to remote working.

In the past, I’ve used Skype to work on concepts with an art director. The video facility meant that we could share our scamps and bounce ideas off each other ‘face to face’. He was only on the other side of London at the time, but he could just have easily have been on the other side of the world. Skype also has a nifty function that allows you to share your desktop, a feature that came in very handy when I was discussing my portfolio with the creative director of an agency in New York one evening.

But Skype isn’t just for video calls. You can use it to conduct group conference calls too. Just last week I received a brief from a creative director sitting in his study in south London, while his creative services director drove the call from her sofa in north London. I was in my kitchen in sunny Surrey at the time, but we were able to go over the brief in as much detail as we needed without leaving the comfort of our homes. No travel time or expenses, no meeting rooms to be booked. Just a simple Skype group call. We didn’t even switch on our web cams, so they could have been dressed in their pyjamas for all I knew (don’t fill in the details if you’re reading. It would spoil the mystique).

But if face-to-face meetings is your thing and you insist on it, that’s not a problem. As well as Skype, there’s FaceTime via iPhone or iPad and Google+ hangouts to explore. Both of which are free (hurrah!).

So remote, doesn’t have to mean distant. The world is connected, to quote Richard Branson and if all this talk of VOIP and video conferencing makes you nervous, there’s always the good old fashioned telephone.

But what other tools do I use to make sure remote working works? Google Drive and DropBox are my new best friends. Google Drive lets me share documents and calendars with clients, giving us both editorial control over a piece of work. Everything is cleverly stored in the Cloud, easily accessible whenever you need it and safe from flying cups of coffee.

DropBox on the other hand is where I store my large files. Portfolio pieces, reference packs, background information. I can access it on my laptop, my iPad or my iPhone, so if you ever lose that copy of the Annual Report from the Chief Medical Officer, I can send it over to you with just a couple of clicks.

In 2013, with such a wealth of digital tools available for free that make meetings and networking possible on a global scale, do you really need me sitting in the creative department eating your biscuits? Working from Scotland means I can charge lower prices. My overheads are lower, so I pass that on to you. But my work ethic and standard of writing remain intact. It also means you only pay for the hours you use. If a piece of work takes me 3 hours, that’s what I invoice. So you don’t need to worry about booking a copywriter for a whole day and have them twiddling their thumbs for an hour while a brief is put together.

So, how about we try this remote working lark? If you hate it, I’ll send you biscuits to compensate. Now how’s that for an invigorating thought?

Biscuit anyone?

Biscuit anyone? If you try to fit a whole one in your mouth, I’m not sure how invigorating that would be to be honest…but let’s do a Google+ hangout to check!