27 Jan How to Make a Multi-City Office Work
Sorry that it’s been a bit quiet around here lately. The reason? End of year rush. Projects that needed to be completed. The small matter of moving two kids, two dogs, a husband and a houseful of objects from the City of Gold to The Mother City. Oh, not to mention trying to make a business work in two different cities as well.
Catherine and I got lots of raised eyebrows when we told people that we’d continue to operate Black Mountain out of two different offices, once I made the move to Cape Town. But for us, there was never really another option. We work extremely well together and the kind of work we do relies less on face time than many other businesses. That’s not to say that we don’t miss seeing each other every morning and bouncing ideas off each other, because we do. But there are ways of making a multi-city office work – here are my top tips (after only a month – I’m sure I’ll have more to add soon!):
1. Communicate like never before
Luckily we are communicators for a living. Words are our thing so using them comes naturally, but we’ve definitely ramped up the communication even more. Whether it’s a quick call to discuss a proposal, an email to remind the other one about a task or a Whatsapp message explaining where we are (school run!), communication is key. More than key, it’s VITAL.
2. Make technology your friend
We use Asana to manage our workflow, Google Drive to share documents and a shared calendar where we input everything, from doctor’s appointments to ballet recitals to client meetings. That way we can see at a glance what the other person is up to or working on and nothing slips through the cracks. Find solutions that streamline business processes and make your working lives easier.
3. Be flexible
We started out with most of our clients in Joburg, so Catherine was naturally attending more of the meetings. I therefore took on a bit more writing as I had spare time, and in this way Cath had more time to get through her admin because she had fewer writing deadlines. We’re also starting to adjust the way we work to be more like Key Account Managers, whereas beforehand we worked equally on all clients. An open attitude to adjusting the way you work is so important.
4. Get an office
We thought I may survive working from home but it quickly became apparent that barking dogs and screaming toddlers are not conducive to productivity. We also weren’t prepared to commit to office space with there only being one of me so we’re currently looking at various hot desking options in shared office space that we feel will work really well. I can’t wait to have my own quiet space to work in.
Skype, email, phone calls – they’re all good and well but none of them truly make up for being in the same room as someone else. That’s why we’ve each booked trips to the other person’s home city over the coming months so we can brainstorm, strategise and meet with clients. There is no true replacement for physical presence.
Thanks to Capetonians for welcoming us so warmly (and also to our sprinkling of new Cape Town clients). If you’re a brand or agency in The Mother City looking for digital content that’s targeted, shareable and top notch – get in touch!