by Shea Murtaugh
Let’s just state the obvious: COVID-19 was a game changer in many ways, but especially when it comes to the corporate world. Millions of companies found themselves needing to quickly transition to a 100% remote workforce with little preparation and will also need to figure out how to bring their teams back to the office when the time comes. Fortunately for us, Hoffmann Murtaugh has been 100% remote for years.
Being fully remote from the start gave us an advantage over most in the industry because we didn’t have a learning curve to get started. We continued on without any major issues for our clients, our employees, or our company.
Because we were completely used to being a remote team, we didn’t skip a beat when most agencies were scrambling to figure out their new work-from-home world. While they were in crisis mode, we were able to lend a hand to our clients who were thrown for a loop when it came to running meetings from their dining room table instead of the boardroom table. As other companies tried to balance developing a plan for their employees to work remotely and their typical day to day workload, we were able to stay fully engaged, available, and focused on our clients, vendors, and partners.
In several instances, we were able to help our clients save, renegotiate, or reinvest their marketing dollars based on the quick shifts in media consumption during the early days of quarantine. Specifically, we helped guide clients to reinvest their radio ad budget into digital marketing as people were spending much more time on social media and online and less time in their cars commuting. Because we were able to pivot quickly and with little to no hiccup in our operation, it allowed us to stay focused on our client’s urgent needs.
While our entire team was already remote, there were a few issues our folks needed to work around, like having to balance having their children at home all day with no day care options for the younger ones and dealing with remote learning for those who were already in school. To help them work around these new challenges, we offered more flexible schedules so they could work when it was best for them.
We also had several employees who had their weddings scheduled during the pandemic and had to cancel or reschedule last minute. We held virtual happy hours in celebration of these employees (Wedding gifts included!) and tried to boost their spirits when all of their plans had to be put off.
The mental health of our employees has also been a priority at Hoffmann Murtaugh. The pandemic caused extreme mental stress for everyone in the country, and we took care to let our employees know that their jobs were secure and that COVID wouldn’t affect their positions. Our team worked hard to make sure that we not only maintained, but grew throughout this difficult season to provide this type of security for the team.
Wherever Hoffmann Murtaugh could provide some sort of needed break, we did. We also ended the work week early each Friday during the early weeks of quarantine to give everyone a much-needed head start to the weekend.
Sixteen years ago, we decided to go fully remote with our team, and it did not come without negative remarks from people within the industry. Not having people in an office somewhere was seen as something crazy and many believed it was a bad idea. However, I was on a quest to create a happier and more productive work environment. And guess what? Hoffmann Murtaugh immediately saw the benefits! No one was wasting their time in traffic on a daily basis, spending their time chatting at the cooler, and productivity was at an all time high.
Yes, we’ve been at the remote work game for a long time, and even though the pandemic didn’t shake up our regular workplace habits too much, we did see some changes. The biggest impact we saw in the day-to-day operation of the company was ultimately positive, though.
Before COVID, we would regularly meet up for meetings and collaborative sessions in person at our coworking space, but the pandemic forced us to virtually connect more often. This brought us closer as a company, and, ironically, everyone felt a little more productive. It also forced us to turn on our cameras more, check in on each other, and helped us not to be embarrassed of the pet (or kid) that made an appearance in meetings. We also realized that opting for a virtual meeting when possible saves time and boosts productivity. Ultimately, we came out of the early days of quarantine feeling more connected, supported, secure, and appreciated.
Other agencies in the industry haven’t been doing as well, however. Currently, we are at a 30% projected growth for this year, have hired seven employees so far in 2020, and haven’t had to downsize staff. Meanwhile, the majority of the industry expects to see an overall loss of 10% over the next two years.
Overall, being a fully remote company before it was a necessity during a global pandemic was a huge asset not only for us as a company and as a team, but for our clients, as well. Some time in the (hopefully near) future, this pandemic will be under control, and businesses will have their people heading back to the physical office. The smart ones, though, will use their experience over the last few months to make the case for keeping their team remote for the long term.
Shea Murtaugh is the founder and president of Hoffmann Murtaugh.