Companies worldwide are leveraging technology to connect their employees and clients in ways never imagined. Geography is no longer a limitation to accessing the best talent and ideas to deliver a project. Though Luckett & Farley has been based in Louisville, KY for over 160 years, we have employee-owners working all over the country. Our satellite locations include, Pittsburgh, PA, Pensacola, FL, New York, NY, & Nashville, TN. I recently had the chance to speak with two of our satellite owners to get some scoop on what it’s like working remotely.
Mary Ann Etter is a Luckett & Farley Interior Designer located in Nashville. She works in the AT&T headquarters building in downtown Nashville where she has provided the highest level of customer service to AT&T for nearly 10 years. When she's not in the "Batman building," she works from home or on site at different project locations.
Liz Liss is an Interior Designer stationed in New York City. Liz spends much of her time working with our Media+Entertainment group. A typical day for Liz can involve many projects and traveling all over the city to make sure clients are satisfied.
Mary Ann & Liz were kind enough to answer a few questions regarding their experiences working in satellite offices in today's new workplace economy. Here are their thoughts...
Most of Luckett & Farley’s employee-owners work in the Louisville office. What's it like working from a satellite office? What are we missing?
Mary Ann: My work day is fairly normal. I follow AT&T’s schedule so I generally work from 8 to 5. I can echo some of Liz’s sentiments about productivity; the lack of interruptions allows me to stay focused on the task at hand. However, I do sometimes miss the camaraderie & synergies of working with other designers.
Great point. So, what are some the negatives to working remotely?
“In essence, this satellite model does not bind L&F designers and designs to Louisville, KY. It is a tremendous advantage both practically and conceptually. We can touch base with clients without incorporating travel for 2 days. Satellite operatives have an local perspective on trends and needs. Ultimately, these lead to better client service – that’s what we want to do.”
Daniel McNatt, Architect
Liz: Sure, I miss the office banter; I may not be in "the know” as much since I'm not there to hear impromptu conversations. Missing out on internal training and events used to be a challenge, but thanks to our new IT guy, the satellite people are remotely connected into all of the Louisville office happenings.
Mary Ann: To follow up on what I said earlier, it would be nice to be able to just turn around and ask someone a quick question. Internal training was once my biggest downside, but as Liz said, the technology is finally in place to allow us to be included.
What is the important part of working from a satellite office?
Liz: Discipline. If you aren't disciplined you run the risk of becoming overwhelmed. No one is really looking over your shoulder to get the work done. You must police yourself or you will fail.
Mary Ann: I completely agree, discipline is extremely important. Self-discipline is the key to being able to work independently.
You both mentioned that the technology is finally at a point that working from home can be just as effective as being in the office. What are the pros and cons?
Liz: Being able to easily access the L&F server and share files between offices is a major plus. I can be working on the same Revit model as one of the architects in Louisville and everything goes off without a hitch.
Mary Ann: Agreed. I’ve been working from a satellite office for a long time now and it is amazing how much faster everything is once you have access to shared information.
Communication is one of the most important aspects of a well-functioning organization. Does working so far away from your colleagues hinder your ability to communicate effectively?
Liz: I don’t believe so. In my experience, colleagues have been open-minded and patient when it comes to working with me. I am constantly in contact with everyone thanks to email and instant messaging. I do get excited when people from the Louisville office have to make a trip to New York for a client meeting, site visit, etc. A little face time is a boost.
“Being a former remote worker, I have an understanding of how working remotely can be both rewarding and challenging. Collaboration tools, like desktop sharing and video conferencing, have made a person accessible and connected anywhere at any time. Remote employees are a great resource to for feedback on which technologies and methods work best. If their experience with IT is improved everyone’s experience throughout the company will improve.”
Chris Bean, Senior IS Administrator
Mary Ann: Because I work almost exclusively with AT&T employees around the country, I am used to handling everything by phone, email, or instant messaging. Would it be easier to do some things in person? Most likely, but I know my clients and my colleagues so well by now that communication is hardly ever an issue.
Any final thoughts?
Liz: Working from a satellite office has been very beneficial for me. I am thankful that I get to work for a company such as Luckett & Farley while still living in the city I know and love. A person working from a satellite office needs to be comfortable with making sense of things on their own. I do not think a junior person would thrive in this type of setting. In my opinion, it takes a level of maturity to work this way.
Mary Ann: My position is a perfect fit for my work & personal style – independent, responsible, organized. I truly care about the work I do and I’m grateful I am allowed to do it in a way that fits into my life. I don’t believe I could have been as successful at the start of my career in a similar situation, but my self-discipline and the resources at Luckett & Farley have allowed me to thrive.
Are you a part of the new workplace economy? For those companies who embrace it, they will capitalize on new workplace efficiencies, collaboration and retain top talent who provides exceptional customer service.