Modern multinational companies have a foot in many different territories, and teams that can be reached no matter the time zone. Despite that, Appetite Creative’s managing director Jenny Stanley believes some travel is inevitable, and that it’s only right to offset it.
We started with a global team. There was never any intention of hiring whatever was around. We were never going to settle for hiring staff because they were within driving distance, or could catch the bus here to the office and back. We have always looked for the best people we could find, wherever they may be. We genuinely believe in having staff all around the world, and we have built our infrastructure around that.
Our project management tools are designed with the remote worker in mind, and our deadlines are set knowing that, with staff in most time zones across the planet, we can offer a 24-hour service. Our team is always contactable, always online. In fact, the biggest problem we've ever had in trying to locate a team member was when his commute to our head office was interrupted by a strike on the Underground. Should he have been in another city or country, or on another continent, we could have been in touch immediately. Our offices are located in busy and bustling cities, and we tend to prefer keeping out of all the hassle that can bring.
We can send representatives, highly respected team members, to see our customers and we can meet virtually. Our tech support is not subcontracted out somewhere, nor is it waiting three weeks for a technician to come to visit. If you call us, from wherever you are, you'll reach one of the core team in HQ, and you'll be dealing with us instantly and directly. There will be no language barriers, time barriers, or delivery times.
Having an international team has given us a massive advantage over competitors. It's something that we wouldn't ever dream of changing. We allow our teams the opportunity to find their methods, and we trust them to see the way that makes them as productive and creative as possible. It's an empowerment that can be stifled in some office environments.
We observe what is working for other businesses we encounter in the different parts of the world we operate in, and offer those ideas up to each other. We can brainstorm and tackle issues from different perspectives, which all shed light differently. Naturally, exposure to new ways of doing things boosts creativity and boosts team spirit. A diverse, global team, working from such a variety of places around the world, is our company culture.
Every so often, though, we do need to get on a plane and take off.
As a managing director, my time is valuable, and I need to keep travel to a minimum. I often find that the best way to do this is to think green. I take only direct flights, and I choose the greenest options (Skyscanner is excellent for highlighting these). I use the train and metro systems as much as possible, and after a day in London, my Fitbit shows more miles walked than you knew existed.
My team is there to make sure that I travel in the most efficient way I can, which is paramount to what I do. I don't have time to wait on the kerb for a cab when I could already be on my way. Sure, it's not easy, I am usually dragging a carry-on suitcase, and I do like my high heels, but I challenge anyone to beat me to my meetings.
On the plane or the train, it's a different story. I use these when I need to and make the most of the time when I'm on them. With wifi now readily available on most flights, I am more connected than I would have been not long ago. I can use the time differently, too. That I can't be called on the telephone means I have some time to get things done, and I must admit that it can be valuable.
But it's hardly preferable; I fly in economy and trying to work when the heavy gentleman or lady in front slams their seat back, or when I know the guy next to me is looking at my screen, can be infuriating. I hate a window seat, but I need one so that I'm not folding up my laptop and seat tray and getting up every half an hour. The peace mentioned above, obtained from not being contactable by telephone, is often offset by the loud children sitting very close to me. But, in the window seat and with the help of the noise-cancelling research department at Bose, I can get a whole lot done.
We make an effort to offset our flights by planting trees in Scotland, and that's because there is a responsibility we know we must take. We are trying to be as good as we can to the world: each new staff member seems to have fantastic green ideas, and we consider them all.
We get to see some wonderful places and meet and work with - and for - some great people. The world is a glorious place, and we are humbled to have representatives all over it. When we travel, we do so carefully and efficiently. At the same time, we marvel at the planet we live on.
Appetite Creative has always been somewhat of a multinational. We have always actively sought expertise from all around the world and hired staff with that same precept. Today, with offices in Dubai, London and Madrid, we need to make sure that we take responsibility for our carbon footprint, and we are doing everything we can to that end.
The Drum Network Travel Special - December 2019