With social distancing at the forefront of many minds, it’s only natural that companies have been discussing remote work solutions to manage productivity and face-to-face contact. At a time when major shifts are happening in the economy, adding the transition from brick-and-mortar to remote work can be daunting. As with any change, it’ll come with unexpected challenges.

But NOISE has a different perspective that we think you’ll benefit by our sharing.noise virtual agency great

For over 10 years, NOISE has succeeded as a 100% virtual agency. The initial decision was made in large part by Founder John Sprecher, who desired to be present in his young children’s lives. Today, of course, that decision makes us look far ahead of the curve (although given the circumstances, we’d rather not be).

As a relatively new Partner at NOISE, I find our agency’s experience in managing remote operations comforting during these times of uncertainty and social distancing. For us, our day-to-day is status quo. We meet virtually with our team weekly and as needed, via Zoom video conferencing and Slack instant messaging and file sharing. At the same time, we can meet virtually with our client’s teams on their schedule wherever they are — quarantined at home or still in the office, all smoothly and seamlessly.

We offer a dedicated Client Portal for decision makers to review creative quickly and easily, and comment when necessary, resulting in faster production turns. During this time of crisis, our familiarity and comfort with virtual production gives us more time to analyze, innovate and execute — resulting in better work, more efficient work and more timely work, especially important in an environment that changes almost daily.

For those companies considering the shift, or those who’ve already made it, here are two problems and solutions of the virtual office versus brick-and-mortar.

Shifting Hiring Requirements. A virtual office is only as good as its people — and their ability to work from home. At NOISE, we’ve developed a strict hiring process because in a predominately digital environment, we can literally hire quality professionals anywhere in the world thanks to high-speed internet. However, when hiring, agencies have to be able to identify what can’t be seen — how well those people adapt to working from home. There will be those who hit the ground running and those who fall behind, and our experience helps us identify the traits of the most successful remote employees: independence, self-motivation, team attitude, active participation in virtual communications, being accountable and trustworthy.

Liking My Message is a Valid Response. Hands down, the biggest challenge working remotely is internal communications and empowerment, while maintaining high levels of productivity. The general consensus is that communication is about 80% non-verbal. When you take an on-site team and pull away 80% of the tools they previously used to communicate, you’ve enrolled them in a high-stakes, real-world Ropes Course Team Building Challenge. You instantly shift from voice communication to text, from head nods to likes — while knowing there are times you simply need to click the Slack phone option and call your associate. Assembling a team to thrive in this brave new world is a skillset developed over time that results in greater efficiency, faster production and an agile agency ready to activate and go all in when you need them most.

From all of us at NOISE, we wish you a warm welcome to the virtual agency world.

— Ashley Shenk