Founder & CEO
I started Insivia in 2002 and for over 22 years I have had the chance to work directly with hundreds of companies and founders to redefine or reinvent their businesses.
I've been wanting to write an article like this for a while. Sure I'll say I've been busy, but I also may have been clinging on to the old version of myself.
20 years ago I founded Insivia with a college friend Bradley Freeman and I remember that one of the most exciting moments was moving out of a corner of my apartment and into our first office. It was small and a little dated for sure, but it made starting a company a little more real.
I'll be honest, for many many years after that point, the office was everything to me. Brad and I weren't business partners anymore but my obsession with the office stayed.
I saw it as a sign of success - bigger, more modern, cooler - as an agency, it was a reflection of us ( In my mind at the time. ) It was also the safety blanket for believing that my team was there, butts in seats and getting stuff done day in and day out.
Even when we had huge issues with one of our offices that made it uncomfortable for our team - many years before the pandemic, I could not come down off my hill. "We're spending money on a lease!", "We need people to be here working!", "Who knows what they'll do at home!", "But clients!", "But collaboration!"... but everything.
Then the world changed.
Tony Zayas and I joke we were the last ones in the office denying that COVID was a reason for people to work from home.
A few years later now, man have I done a 180-degree turn from where I was. For those that knew me or worked for me years ago -- I know they would be super skeptical.
I'll start with what remote work means to me personally.
Being near my family. Not wasting over an hour on a commute every day. Seeing my kids for a few minutes when they get home from school. Dressing comfortable daily. Less stress of having and managing an office. And the expense of an office invested in better things.
For me personally, once I got that taste of working from home, it changed my life for the better.
But what about all those "But's" from earlier??
"Are people working?"
"Will our culture suck?"
"Are we collaborating?"
"Will our customers think we aren't legit?"
"Don't people want to come in to a cool office?"
"Will we keep people if there isn't free coffee and games?"
Well, I actually think all of those things are better now than when we were in an office. Seriously.
I know my team is producing more, collaborating more, our culture is connected and they are happy which also means clients are happy.
I'll share my secret to this success though...
The reality of remote work is, that you have to have the right people that can thrive in the remote culture. And I am not talking about the people who say they are great in remote environments, but the people who are.
A-players where it doesn't matter where or when they work -- they just give a shit AND get shit done.
This has meant we have had to get better at evaluating who those people are and even terminating people after two weeks when we realize they aren't the right person to thrive in our remote culture and world.
My leadership team and I just discussed with a new hire the importance of establishing trust and transparency early. That the reason as a business owner, I am not stressed about people getting their jobs done, collaborating or driving us to grow is that we've built a ton of trust and transparency.
Its a two way street though.
You have to give a little trust and provide transparency so that the right person on your team will begin to reflect that trust and transparency back on you. After a while that trust compounds -- only with the right people of course.
Now, there will be a lot of folks that want to work remote and think they are great for it.
I know that's just not true. It isn't for everyone. Well, at least not everyone will thrive being remote. It's the truth.
If you are sitting there wondering why your boss doesn't want to do remote work -- maybe its because they are old school -- but it could also be a two way street where trust has not been built. And those assuming they should have absolute trust without proving it may never work remote.
In the end of all of this I can tell you I am 10 times happier, my employees are happier, my clients are happier, we have a great culture and we are growing -- all with a fully remote team and the ability to hire new people all over the country and world.
As I've pointed out, it's not simple. A successful fully remote company is not a flip of the switch.
Even my short story leaves out a lot of nuance of how we got to this place and a lot of the failures that happened along the way.
My life has changed for the positive in significant ways. I know a lot of fellow entrepreneurs who are still in the mindset I was years ago and will probably never change.
It was time I shared some of my story and I am always happy to talk to other leaders about it more. Just message me.
But I'm #remotework out and proud.