The Difference Collective was built from the start to be virtual. We pioneered and honed our approach before COVID-19 forced everyone else to join us. We won’t be going back to the office, because we’ve never had one. For our team, it’s a way of working that benefits everyone – members and clients alike.
Here’s why it works so well:
- Talent: In our diverse, virtual team, we are truly greater than the sum of our parts. For the projects I’ve worked on, I’ve had instant access to creative strategists, digital wizards, video production experts, killer copywriters, media experts. Every type of creative you’d want to be in touch with and have in your virtual office is there, connected by the world wide web.
- Infrastructure: Of course, there’s a need to balance security with the freedom to collaborate over the internet. Having the platforms to enable this is essential. At The Difference Collective we use a central hub to share ideas and communicate one-to-one, in project or specialist teams and as an organisation. All our files and folders are kept behind firewalls to ensure confidentiality.
- Connectivity: Working virtually doesn’t mean we never get together. We use video calls and break-out rooms to engage and interact. Brainstorms that are fast and focused online can deliver amazing results, in my experience. But we do also meet to interact in person, when times allow – we just don’t make it an arduous obligation.
- Boundaries: If you set boundaries, you get the best of all worlds. It’s not such a clear shift as walking into the office after a clear transition on the commute, but you can create space and place to enter a professional mode without leaving your house.
- Choice: In the office you’d adapt your style and way of communicating depending on the person. Working remotely, you have even more choice about the best way to work with someone or communicate with your audience. Use online, phone or video media. Locate yourself where you feel most comfortable and effective. Working in an agile way reminds us all that work is just part of our overall lives.
The comms industry is fast-paced, innovative and works around the clock. In the past, this seemed to imply that comms people couldn’t work remotely. We think the opposite is true. No one has their best innovative ideas sat at a desk staring at a screen. Our way of working gives us more flexibility and “space” to create and collaborate like never before.
We’ve been working successfully like this for years and setting the gold standard for virtual working. The pandemic has proved to the wider world that it makes sense.
About the Author
Anna Gray is a well-respected and trusted senior PR professional who has over 20 years’ experience of healthcare communications. Anna held senior positions in agencies for over 13 years before starting as an independent consultant.