What remote working means to us

BB Agency on running a global digital agency from a Croatian Island.

BB Agency illustration
BB team is changing the world together. Illustration by Vicente Reyes

Remote working is probably something you’ve been hearing about a lot recently, and that’ because it’s on the rise the world over. According to a survey in 2018, 56% of companies globally now allow some form of remote work. Data from the US alone indicates that between 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% increase in the practice. Fueled by both tech innovations and more progressive attitudes towards productivity, this change is arguably one of the most dramatic shifts to happen in global workplace culture in the last century.

And that was all before the Covid pandemic, which drastically shifted the way companies work nowadays. According to a 2020 survey, 70% of full-time workers in the United States are working from home during COVID-19, and 80% expect to work from home at least 3x/week after the pandemic.

For us, remote work is not only central to our business model, but to our way of life. We wanted to take the time to share a little bit about how we do it, and most importantly, why it works so well for our team and our clients.

BB Agency illustration
Matej and Marino working at the HQ on Island Krk.

How we do it

Whilst before, many people might associate remote working with nomadic freelancers, Instagramming their Macbooks in exotic locations, this was the reality for only a minority of people. Today the majority of the workers, 70% of full-time workers in the United States, work directly from home.

There are many different ways to work remotely. It can mean anything from an individual worker having the freedom to work from home occasionally — right through to globally scattered teams who collaborate across timezones, where no physical central office exists.

At BB Agency, our model exists somewhere in between. Our studio and HQ is in Krk, Croatia, this is where you’ll find our two founders and four other full-time team members. Our extended network of collaborators — designers, strategists, product designers, UX researchers, animators, illustrators, developers, and project managers — all work remotely from around the world. As of publishing, we are working with team members in France, the Philippines, Brasil, Lithuania, UK, Russia, Netherlands, and the Czech Republic but to name a few. This works for us because we take the time to build long-term relationships, only working with people we know we can trust. Many of our remote team are on retainers, whereas others work project to project — but all are as integral to our team as those based at our HQ in Krk.

We use Asana for project management, Slack for messaging, Dropbox Paper for live collaboration, Hubstaff for time tracking, and Zoom for meetings. It goes without saying communication is integral to running a successful remote creative team, so we’re constantly evaluating our systems and processes, looking for ways to learn and to improve.

It’s a lot of work maintaining company culture, and it might be harder now than ever. We’ve found that transparency, clear expectations, and constant communication are the pillars of successful teamwork. We’ve integrated daily stand-ups for the HQ team in Croatia, while the remote team started with weekly one-on-ones. We are looking to expand our culture by starting company-wide weekly meetings where we would discuss our day-to-day lives, weekend plans, projects, and improvements to our work processes.

Beautiful blue sea and old town look from above

Why we do it

We embraced remote working from the very beginnings of the studio back in 2012 and did so out of pure necessity. Only 7,000 people are living in our home town. It will likely come as no surprise that the island of Krk, Croatia, beautiful as it is, isn’t exactly a hotbed for globally renowned designers and developers (or for brands who needed our services, for that matter). But rather than face packing up and heading overseas, leaving behind our community and our home, we realized that living in the age of the internet meant we didn’t have to choose. By building a remote practice, we could work with clients on a global scale whilst offering them the best possible team for the job, unhindered by geography.

Something that started out for us as a very real constraint on our business, has now transformed into an asset — one that we believe sets us apart from other agencies on the global stage. Here’s why.

1. Our teams are happier
When you work across multiple timezones, the 9–5 workday soon loses its relevance. We trust our teams implicitly to get work done on time and to the best of their ability. Beyond this, both our office team and the remote team have the freedom to work flexible hours and maintain a healthy work-life balance. A happier and less stressed team breeds creativity, leading to better results for our clients.

BB Agency employees Michaela Fasova, Wesley Van't Hart, Anna Meleshina

2. It makes us more efficient with our time
Managing projects around our team’s variable working hours and timezones mean we can’t fall back on asking people to work long into the night, at a moment’s notice. Our global team might be too busy picking up their kids from school, out eating dinner somewhere, on their morning run, or already fast asleep! Remote working forces us to prioritize planning upfront, to try and avoid frantic last-minute deadlines and unsustainable workloads. It’s better for clients, and better for us.

3. We can always work with the best person for the job
Despite having access to the whole world’s design talent, that doesn’t mean it’s always quick or easy to find outstanding people to work with. All the flexibility we speak about means we have to trust our team implicitly, and like in any workplace, building those relationships can take time. But when we find great people, there’s very little that stands in our way of collaborating. Not location, not visas, not families, not disabilities, not gender. Our remote model allows for greater diversity than that of the traditional workplace. All that matters to us is finding the best person for the job.

Employees at work. The man in the picture on the left sitting in front of a computer, and woman in the picture on the right looking at her notebook
Emrah (left) working from his home in London, and Anna (right) working from her home in Moscow.

The future

At BB Agency, we tend to think of ourselves as remote-natives. It’s really the only way we’ve ever worked — not a bandwagon we’ve jumped on, or something we’ve worked to retrofit into our story. But we’re still learning to do it better. As we continue to expand our team, we know we need to find ways to maintain our culture despite our physical distances. And we’d like to foster even greater diversity in our team given how well our model allows for it.

Advances in AI technology are forcing society to reframe the way we value work and productivity. Planning for the aging, decentralized and multi-hyphenate workforce of the future is integral. The global rise in remote working is one way we’re seeing this manifest more clearly than ever, and we wholeheartedly encourage others to embrace this future-fit model that has been so successful for us.

Thanks to Ally for her copywriting skills, and to Vicente for his drawing skills.


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