Capsule Remote First

by Simon Isaac on 23rd August 2022

People, planet, profit

When Capsule (then Zero Above) was founded over 12 years ago, our mission was to create an equitable, carbon-balanced business that put people and planet first, profit last. I’m so proud to say that this ethos is still alive and breathing and as prevalent as ever, shining brightly in everything we do. This emanates as a strong philosophy of creativity and performance, through branding, marketing and campaigns that are focused on creating a better future for all through communicating, awareness-raising or through changing behaviour – that is our true specialism at Capsule.

We the people

This week, we gathered as a team and spent the day in the woods to agree the next chapter in our journey, as we transition to a remote-first structure, which we enter with great excitement and enthusiasm. We explored the pros and cons for ourselves, our clients and the business and created a manifesto for change, revealing themselves as a set of ‘non-negotiables’, principles and ways of working for ourselves, our clients and the business. We had a thoroughly fabulous day hosted by Green Light Trust, and did some team-building work, too.

Future forward

We’ve been working as a remote-first organisation since March 2020, when the first Covid-19 related recommended ‘work from home’ structure was implemented by the UK government – we decided early on that this was best for our health and welfare as a team. Thankfully, we already had an emergency plan in place as since day one – being based initially in a rural location, we occasionally lost our broadband in bad weather or could not get to the studio due to snow or icy roads – so we were prepared for this event. So our transition is now affirmed in our manifesto and we have given up our permanent office space to move forward as a team.

New places, new faces

Remote first in definition means that first and foremost, we will work from a location each of us chooses to use. For some, it will be home. For others, a hot desk space, cafe or other space. I’ve worked like this since 2006, preferring the variety of locations to feed my creativity; new places and new faces are so inspiring. We call these ‘hub locations’. I actually have a private studio space at Old Jet in RAF Bentwaters along with a membership at Innovation Martlesham, which provides me with hot desking, meeting room space and many public working areas to interact and network with like-minded people. We have in fact, spent the last six months exploring new venues to establish a network of places we can all work from and there is clearly a growth of such spaces, as more people transition to this way of working. We also have a range of filming studios at our disposal, amazing locations in London and across the East of England to meet clients and will be opening our video editing suite by the end of October 2022, as our video production business continues to grow.

Communication is the key

When we moved to a work from home environment in 2020, I was conscious that this was a game changer for the business, as people were used to working from the Capsule office Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. This obviously created a classic and well proven working culture and I knew we had to do something to make sure our working world didn’t fall apart. Our team is predominantly made up of Gen Z and Gen Y people; digital natives, naturally comfortable using our collaboration tools Slack and Asana to communicate with one another. But being a member of Gen X, I knew there had to be something more to keep the relationships strong between the team, so we introduced a few simple tools to achieve this.

Keeping conversations going

Every day online, we met as a team at 915am to check in with each other, talk briefly about our evenings and what the plans were for the day. Mondays were focused on the business for the week and Fridays we celebrated our achievements that week and shared challenges and how we overcame them. On Thursdays, we all did 15 minutes of Yoga breathing together with our in-house Yogi Rachel. Eventually, we invited clients to this, our relationships with them are so important to us as a team. We continue this regular meeting culture, but now we do this weekly in one of our hub locations face-to-face on Monday or Tuesday and Friday, always. Then, throughout the week we have a structure of departmental meetings and one-to-ones which are conducted face to face or online. The one caveat is that everyone gets out of home for at least one more day to work somewhere different or meet a colleague for any reason they choose – collaborate on a project, have a coffee or lunch or just for a change of space. We’ve diverted the cost of keeping an office into this structure and each team member has their own budget to support this new way of working.

 

WIGs

We’ve worked to a set of ‘Wildly Important Goals’ for over two years now, a principle introduced to us by one of our external mentors (we have three available to the team). These goals are set each week and based on our client needs, projects and business development. It’s a great way to work and on Fridays, we are able to celebrate our successes and discuss obvious challenges and share solutions together. Having these WIGs in place means everyone knows how they contribute to the wider success of the team and business goals.

Getting the work done

I’m a great advocate of conversation, but when it comes to a remote-first structure, communication tools such as Slack and Asana are essential. Documenting communication is critical to maintaining a strong culture of transparency and keeping projects on track, as conversations can be forgotten or misunderstood. But when you combine great working tools and conversation together, then that’s where the magic happens. It’s not a new philosophy for me, documenting meetings with follow-up notes, client contact reports or a simple thank you has been my raison d’etre that has served me well for many years.

A final thought

I know many business leaders worry about the transition to a non-office environment, but I think this is an exciting opportunity for change. What better way to operate a business like ours than to give the team or workforce the flexibility to work where they want, as often as possible? After all, measurable outputs come to the success of a business, not measuring how much time people are spending on work, or where they do it. Simply put, a happy team is more productive in my eyes, and what is an office anyway, other than a location for people to remotely work?

Capsule Marketing will officially become a remote-first business from the 2nd September 2022.

Simon Isaac

Written by Simon Isaac

Simon has over 30 years marketing experience, a diploma in marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing and has owned and run Capsule (formerly Zero Above) for over 10 years. As a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, he delivers strategic capabilities to every client project, having worked with leading organisations across the globe. Outside Capsule, Simon loves gravel riding and yoga and is a passionate EV advocate. He’s also a Board Trustee for Green Light Trust, a Suffolk based charity for mental health and wellbeing.

Read more posts by Simon
X