Our office is easy to spot from anywhere in London – it’s that big glass pointy thing – but some of us at Chantry Group have never even been there.
Having grown our team during 2020, some of us have never met in person, either!
That’s not because we’re anti-social, or forced to stay home by lockdowns, but because working from home has been working for us for more than 10 years.
Back in the days when Covid would have been picked up by the spellchecker as a mis-typing of the Roman poet’s name, Chantry founder Chris Cook decided to have a distributed workforce, i.e. we could work from anywhere we wished with a good internet connection.
It was a bold move at a time when the overwhelming majority of companies were scared stiff of letting any of their employees out of their sight between nine and five.
That might have kept the control-freak tendency happy, but the lack of trust from those intransigent companies was repaid in many cases with presenteeism – people who might have been sitting under their noses but still not doing much – and abuses like that of the man who bought a spare jacket and stuck it over the back of his chair before disappearing for the day while everyone assumed he must be around somewhere.
Fortunately, Chris has a lot more faith in us than that.
He realised, because he’d done his research, that we’d be far more productive if we worked from home or wherever we wished, that we’d be fresh instead of frazzled from an hour-long commute on the Sauna Line, and that we’d make a point of working harder to show that the trust in us was justified.
Yes, it’s lovely to gather in our nominal office at 24 The Shard and gaze out over a Lilliputian London, but we’re just as efficient (arguably, more so) if we’re at home stroking the cat, relaxing on a sofa or drinking endless coffees – whatever it takes, in fact, to make us feel happier and more motivated to do our work. And when you remove the need for geographical proximity, you’re free to hire the best talent the country (or even world…) has to offer.
Businessmen and women whose feet hardly touched the ground for years as they flew to this country or that for meetings have discovered that they can achieve just as much by having the meeting by Zoom or Teams, while saving the cost of business-class flights, hotel stays, transfers and meals and the endless, mind-numbing waits in airport lounges.
The meetings can be called at the drop of a hat, the informality and intimacy can be conducive to better business, and everyone’s relieved that an hour-long meeting that would have taken two days out of their life that they’d never have got back has gone so pleasantly and quickly.
Our Breakthrough Days at Chantry are a case in point. They’re the tool we use to enable us to get properly inside the heads of a new client, and used to involve hiring a venue or descending on the client’s premises, sorting the catering and arranging for our team to travel there from all over the country. But now, like so much else, they’re carried out perfectly well remotely.
If we need to show a document or scribble a quick visual, we can share the screen and everyone can see what we’re talking about – a huge advance on running off 30 copies and waiting while they’re passed around. Having a distributed workforce isn’t for everybody, of course. Bricklayers, heart surgeons and window cleaners can’t really work from home… but so many other people can.
As a company that supports the franchise industry and helps businesses recruit the right franchisees to trust with their reputations and brands, we can do everything we do without actually meeting in person. We can write case studies by interviewing people over the phone, plan Google Ads campaigns, create and write content for websites, target the potential franchisees that franchisors actually want, and walk a franchisor through every part of the process.
And because we’re all so happy with our working arrangements, we’re devoid of the petty resentments that creep into so many workplaces and can, instead, give our all to what we do best.
But if we ever find ourselves missing the view from The Shard, we can live-stream it from one of the structure’s many webcams https://www.theviewfromtheshard.com/east-view/#the-shard-london-2 , without leaving the comfort of our sofas… or even disturbing the cat.