The media is full of articles about how lockdown has changed the way we work forever. Working from home, for those able to do it, is now going to be the new normal. The daily commute is a thing of the past. The office is obsolete.
Even stand-up meetings and breakout zones are so last year when you have Zoom calls and Google hang outs. Asana and Trello we discover, aren’t holiday destinations we’re not allowed to go to, but really helpful teamwork software.
Here at Lean we’ve watched this sudden and somewhat enforced leap into working from home with a practised eye. Because, for us, the new normal isn’t new at all. It’s what we’ve been doing for years. We were founded specifically to be a virtual agency, with a focus on creative B2B marketing. An agency with tons of talent on tap, but none of the overheads and outdated processes that bigger agencies have and which ramp up your bills to pay for theirs.
As I said in one of the early blogs we wrote:
“We want to be creative, agile, flexible, cost effective and all the things our clients seem to love. We can only be all those things because we’re not limited by our location and we’re not weighed down with unnecessary overheads – like an office.”
Lean’s been using collaboration tools since day 1. We have a trusted, experienced network of strategists, planners, project managers, designers, art directors, copywriters, animators, videographers, website creators and app builders ready to jump into action and do great work whenever they are needed. But they’re part of a happy family of freelancers dotted around the world from Spain to South Africa, from India to the US (and a fair few in the UK too). They’re not on the payroll and they like it that way – and so do we – because we can pick the best people for each job.
So, we watch all these agencies, now trying to adapt to lockdown and promising clients business as usual. That work will continue securely and seamlessly. That KPIs and performance targets will be met without stumbling. That budgets can be adjusted to help cope with very uncertain times.
And, we think to ourselves, we’ve been there, done that. It’s not as easy as you think. It takes more than a subscription to Slack, Dropbox and Zoom to work well together when you’re not together. Being agile, flexible, responsive, creative and value for money – being Lean – takes a mindset, a methodology and a myriad of talented individuals.
We’ve got that. Our clients will be only too happy to tell you about it. What we find frustrating is that there are big companies out there still wedded to the concept of big agencies – and prepared to foot the big bills that come with them. We sincerely hope that the new way of working, now being lauded as the biggest change to the workplace since the Industrial Revolution, will persuade them to have a change of heart. To ask themselves, if everyone is working from home, why do their bills pay for that plush office in the centre of town? Or, for people that will never work on their account?
Don’t get us wrong. We love this industry and we want everyone to produce great work, get great results and enjoy great job satisfaction, not to go to the wall in an agency apocalypse. But Lean are pioneers in the new agency model – and as such we’ve already learnt what all those agencies are just trying to come to grips with. We think that gives us an edge that outweighs outdated concerns that size matters most. In our world we’ve already proved it’s not size that counts, it’s satisfaction. And, if you ain’t getting none, it’s time for a new partner.