Today we celebrate 10 years of being a high-performing virtual agency, one that allows us to free our creativity, work collaboratively — and pass the savings along to our awesome clients.
Ten years ago today, something spectacular happened to the Estipona Group.
Not gonna lie: It was a heavy decision made in the context of whole lot of financial insecurity. But it turned out to be among the top five decisions Edward Estipona has ever made. (Letting us dress him up as an elf is #4, in case you’re curious.)
Today is our 10-year anniversary of going virtual! (*Cue the balloon drop, blaring horns and copious confetti flakes and glitter being thrown at your face — see, aren’t you glad we’re virtual?*)
That’s right: 10 years ago today, when others facing similar challenges might have closed up shop, Edward decided to invest in people instead of places. Roughly 15 years after first opening the agency, he decided to move all employees into their home offices, locking the door for the last time on the bricks-and-mortar office that used to confine his employees and their creative muses.
He thought it was a temporary solution to an economy in flux. At the time, if you had asked him, he would have talked confidently and super-motivationally about the fact that the Estipona Group would one day rise yet again to affix a beautifully logoed sign to a building.
But alas, that would not happen. Because that moment created a culture. And that culture is one in which the Estipona Group thrives.
Our agency is virtual by design. We choose to work from home offices, meeting our clients where it’s most convenient for them. We choose to invest in top talent instead of a shiny conference room bathed in LED lights and offices with views of our scenic Sierra surroundings (though some of us do have those at home). We choose to pass along these savings to our clients, instead of being forced to factor our commercial overhead into billing costs. We choose to allow our employees to work side-by-side with our muses in whatever environment we find most inspiring.
We have been in a position over the years to go back to a “traditional” office structure, but our team is resolute: No, no, no, no, no, you can’t make us!
(That tiny temper tantrum was for Edward’s benefit, in case he needs a subtle reminder about our wishes.)
But seriously. What we have discovered is a way to do better, more creative, more cost-effective work, and that’s when we’re able to have the best of all worlds: Abundant co-working time, scheduling that allows us to accommodate the rhythms of our busy lives, technology that connects us and driven people who get shit done.
But despite the obvious benefits of a virtual office, we’ve all seen the stereotypes.
Oh wait, no? You haven’t? Well then, please allow me to share this awesomely maddening example:
So now, let’s play a game of “Work-from-Home Myths vs. Realities.” Because FUN!
Myth or Reality #1: People who work from home sit around in their PJs all day long with unkempt hair and lunch crumbs all over their laps.
Answer: I call “liar-liar-pants-on-fire” on this one. The fact is, we are on copious video calls with clients, meaning at minimumwe all have groomed heads and work-appropriate attire on the top half of our bodies. Ok fine, so there is a possibilitywe let a few crumbs fall on our pajama pants, but does that affect our work? Nope. But seriously, the other reality is: We are in so many meetings daily, that an actual entire day spent “working from home” is as rare as a sighting of a Leprechaun riding a unicorn. (Translation: super-duper rare.)
Myth or Reality #2: People who work from home eat lunch at their desks.
Answer: True. Don’t judge. Soup is yummy.
Myth or Reality #3: People who work from home are anti-social.
Answer: Have you met Jackie? Or Edward? Or any of us, for that matter? We are in fact hyper-social, which is another advantage to the idea of working from home: We are far more productive in these environments, as there are fewer shiny objects lurking around every corner. Plus, we have the advantage of meeting frequently with both clients and co-workers, and because we aren’t forced to sit at adjacent cubicles making small talk about our weekends, we actually enjoy our interactive time so much more. I mean, can you imagine: We actually weave small-talky tidbits like weekend plans and family updates into our team meetings — on purpose!
Myth or Reality #4: People who work from home wake up late and clock out early.
Answer: Um. Yeah, no. In fact, it’s literally in our employee handbook that we are on-hand to work 8-5, so there’s that. But what we find is that because of our flexible structure (is that an oxymoron?), we’re able to work when the inspiration strikes, which can happen at all hours of the day and night. Sure, we have more flexibility to get the kids to school or take a lunch-hour bike ride or attend a soccer game, but there is rarely a time when you won’t find more than a few of us in the “office” — including evenings, weekends and holidays. So if you come up with an amazing idea at 2 a.m.? Clock in and put in a few hours while the inspiration is hot. Great idea in the shower? Get out, towel off (because expensive technology) and proceed directly to the office to make the idea sing! Bottom line: We believe nothing kills creativity more than some archaic, regimented prescription that we must do our best, most creative work between the hours of 8 and 5 every weekday. Buzz. KILL.
Myth or Reality #5: Our pets are our co-workers.
Answer: Yes. This one is a very, very truthy truth. All of our copy, web design, social posts and strategies have been thoroughly scrutinized and vetted by our furry friends (and/or children, who let’s face it, are pretty much glorified pets. Kidding not kidding.). There is also a (small) chance some of us practice presentations on our dogs.
So happy 10-year virtual anniversary to us, our pets/co-workers and our spectacular clients! We are currently in our 27th year of business, 10 of which have now been conducted in a creativity-inspiring environment called “home offices.” So tonight, in celebration, we’ll be raising a toast together — live and in person, not remotely. Because we like irony. And wine.