What you will learn
- Why we decided to get our 4th office despite vowing never to do it again
- Why we instantly regretted the decision (and closed in a matter of weeks)
- How we got out of the lease (and lost $5,000 in the process)
- Why we prefer the remote working model for both ourselves and employees
- Some of our most highly recommended tools for remote workers
- Our best tips for anyone thinking about opening their own office
In today’s podcast, we’re talking about our 4th and final office.
As you may know, we recently decided to lease our 4th office despite vowing never to do it again after the last one (2 years ago). Of course, we instantly regretted it.
Here’s what happened…
Getting Our 4th Office
Around 6-7 years ago now, we ran a digital marketing agency that eventually landed us in a big corporate office with a big team of people.
The experience wasn’t exactly what we’d hoped it would be, so soon after, we decided to downgrade to a smaller apartment-sized office before going completely remote. (FYI: We later sold our agency.)
After that whole ordeal, the thought of getting another office never crossed our minds until very recently. As our team started to grow again, our weekly talks began revolving around having an office space to expand the our link building operation.
Of course, during this time we had made so many productivity breakthroughs in regards to our link building process that it no longer made sense to build a team. In fact, 1 part-time person was now able to do the job of multiple full-time people, compared to previously.
Regardless, we moved forward with the office idea. We secured a spacious office at ~800 euros per month, right in the center of town. We also went full steam ahead with the furnishings and the whole operation was a lot smoother this time around because, well… we’d done it all before.
What Went Wrong?
Honestly, it just never really felt right.
Everything from downgrading equipment (to be more portable to and from work) to not being comfortable in what almost felt like a school exam hall.
We also never had a critical mass of people to make it feel like a real working environment. At the best of times, there were only 4 of us in there.
Not to mention the false sense of productivity of everyone being their in person. The reality is, just because someone is physically present, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re working. (In fact, it’s believed that working from home is often more productive.)
When you work from home, you can take breaks without feeling “locked in”, so to speak. And for us especially, the whole 9-5 grind thing isn’t what we’re about. As a result, we ended up procrastinating instead of being able to relieve ourselves whenever needed. (Some Zelda, anyone?)
Finally, there’s the argument that being there in person makes it easier to train people and give instructions. What we found, however, was that the quality of those instructions tend to suffer because it’s so easy for them to follow up during the task. Nowadays, we use screencasts which forces you to clarify the task upfront.
One of the things we quickly realized about the “togetherness” of an office environment is that, ironically, people become less social.
Since moving all our communications online, we now make a conscious effort to communicate with the team on both a professional and personal level. (And for some reason, it’s just sooo much easier.)
That said, we think it’s still important to have in-person meetings with your team, which is why we’re using the money we saved from closing the office to fund an Authority Hacker team meeting in Budapest this summer.
(We were lucky enough to find a friend who was willing to take over the lease, and he also got to keep the ~$5,000 worth of furniture we put in there.)
Tools For Remote Working
We use countless tools to improve the efficiency of our work, and many of those contribute to the remote working culture we’ve built at Authority Hacker.
The specific tools we recommend are:
- Slack for communication
Unlike Skype, this is solely built for effective team communication and the search feature alone is worth the price of admission (free).
- Asana for project management
Create lists, boards and assign tasks to people throughout your team. A solid (free) solution for project management and one we use all the time.
- SnagIt for screencasts
A lightweight and robust tool for giving feedback and instructions to remote team members via screen recording.
- Google Docs & Sheets
A free and team-friendly way to organize and share content across a team. It’s also backed up in the cloud which is always welcome.
- GDrive for cloud storage
Store all company files in the cloud and share individual files or entire folders with other team members with a few clicks. Another must-have.
- HubStaff for hourly employees
If you have people on your team who work on an hourly basis, HubStaff lets you apply the Upwork time log framework with ease.
Are You Getting An Office?
If you’re getting (or thinking about getting) and office, here’s a few things we urge you to keep in mind.
The first is, don’t sign a long lease. Even if things are going well, you have to realize that growth isn’t always predictable and you will have ups and downs. If you do have to sign a long lease, work in an opt-out clause at the very least.
It’s also a good idea to consider using an apartment as your office spacing as opposed to leasing a dedicated office space. It usually works out MUCH cheaper.
Another thing that’s easy to overlook is internet speeds. Our first office had really slow internet and employees often ended up using 3G data to stay alone. Aim for at least 50mbps per second in an office space.
Finally, it’s important to consider the additional costs of things like trash bags, toilet paper, cutlery, etc. These things really start to add up, particularly as your team grows. All expenses need to be accounted for when committing to this type of thing.
Often when you feel like making a change, you find a reason to make it happen. The key is not to make excuses in this situation. Identify if the change will actually benefit you and your business.