Working remotely is a daily occurrence for our team, but we often hear people asking how an agency that doesn’t have a permanent office works. When working from more than ten different locations scattered around the country, can we meet regularly for coffee? How do we cooperate with the media? And why has a bicycle bell become a tool for our work? Find out what the work of a remote agency looks like behind the scenes.
The adventure of most of our team with remote work began, as in many other companies, with the outbreak of the pandemic. Most, because the tradition of working remotely is already in Planet for a good few years. Szymon and Gosia, working from Warsaw, joined our indigenous Krakow agency first. Then Natalia from the Krakow office moved to Bydgoszcz. In subsequent years, our team expanded with more employees from the capital, from Wroclaw, but also from a number of smaller towns, such as Pinczow, located near Kielce, and Burow near Krakow.
And although a large number of people working from outside Krakow joined us after the outbreak of the pandemic, we can safely say that we were well prepared to work in a fully remote mode from its beginning.
We gave up the office completely almost three years ago now
We work from our homes, and use coworking and conference rooms for rent when necessary. We are also supported by a whole arsenal of communication tools: from Microsoft Teams to Slack and Google Meets to emails and phone calls. Thanks to them, we are in constant contact with both other team members and clients. Our daily work is facilitated by ClickUp, in which we schedule all processes and monitor each other’s progress or, for example, the occupancy of a particular team member.
We also travel a lot. We meet in person with regular and new clients, participate in onsite trainings and events, and from the second half of 2022 we regularly meet in Krakow or Warsaw to talk and work together. The frequency of the team’s travel is perhaps best summed up by the fact that in October alone our Office Assistant Karolina had to oversee the settlement of more than twenty business trips.
Even in creative work, we rely on strong discipline
Working in a distributed team poses many challenges that we haven’t had to face before – project management looks different when each team member is in a different city, it’s a bit more difficult to get a quick opinion on the text being created or get deadlines under control. Daily work requires us to be very disciplined and highly organized.
Brainstorming sessions can serve as an example. We associate them primarily with a meeting in the office, an intense exchange of ideas and writing down ideas on the board. It has become customary not to use the Internet during them, which is the prime distractor. So what to do when everyone involved in the brainstorm is in other cities, and it is the Internet that allows us to conduct it?
A remotely organized brainstorm can be very productive if we stick to a specific plan. A strictly limited duration of the brainstorm, a single presenter who determines the order of contributions, and a clear division of the meeting into stages (we generate ideas first, then discuss them) help keep the meeting on track. Our storms are also characterized by a limited number of participants – we do not require the presence of the entire team, but only people interested in the topic and simply having time for such a meeting. Under such conditions, we work more and more efficiently and are able to create more and more effective solutions.
Whenever we can, we don’t give up on live meetings
In 2021, we invited journalists to a lunch delivered right to their doorsteps. We also held more than one press conference in the virtual space, with guests and experts from outside Poland. Many of our clients are based abroad, and most editors have relied on remote work during the pandemic. Influencers travel all over the world and record footage for us in the Maldives or Portugal, and when it comes to subcontractors – we rely on those who are the best, not based closest to us. Of the people we work with on a daily basis, those with whom we can freely meet are a definite minority.
When we can, however, we rely on in-person meetings. Even if the event we are organizing takes place in the remotest part of Poland, we make sure that members of the team serving the client are on site to oversee the best course of the event. We travel with our clients to industry meetings and trade shows, and if the client has a Polish office we try to visit it regularly. We know each other on a daily basis from photos in email footers and videocalls, so live meetings are of great value to us.
The biggest challenge? Finish the calla with the team
As PR professionals, we are definitely talkative and social. That’s why the biggest challenge of working remotely can sometimes be keeping the meeting on track and sticking to set topics. With help often comes the bicycle bell mentioned at the beginning. It is its sound that marks the end of the official part of the brainstorming and opens the part to other topics. In order to be able to focus one hundred percent on work during project and client meetings, we try to stay in touch with each other privately as often as possible: once a week we meet for coffee online, and at least once a month we hold a live meeting. This way we know what’s going on in each project and with each member of our team.
Despite the paucity of time spent together, working remotely benefits us above all. It makes us more flexible. We can invite the best specialists to join our team, without worrying about the fact that they live in remote parts of the country, or even outside its borders. We can fearlessly cooperate with clients from different parts of the world, including those who do not have their branches in Poland.
We work the way we like and from where we want, and it pays off
We could talk about our patents for effective remote work for hours (as PR people do). But we know that the most important thing is results and customer satisfaction. In our case, these are confirmed by the score of 80 NPS points we obtained in 2022 during a survey of overall customer satisfaction. In the same year, in a survey conducted by Kantar research, the effectiveness of our activities was rated at 5.8 points (out of a possible 6).
Of course, our clients’ votes matter most to us, but an important distinction is also confirmation from the industry. In December 2022, our agency was awarded two trophies in the Golden Clips competition. One of them: Silver Clip in the Beauty, Hygiene and Wellness category, for the campaign “1701 enters the market” we received for our work for NAOS Poland – a client we have been serving exclusively remotely since the beginning of our cooperation.