July 20th, 2017
Why we’re going semi-remote.
We believe in a growing and evolving internet. One that in 10 years time from now will look completely different to the way it currently does. I guess if we didn’t believe in this, it’d be a bit pointless hedging our bets and going all-in as a digital agency, wouldn’t it?
As a development agency we experience a day-to-day shift in the way the world works. Even the type of work our clients are asking for is shifting ever so slightly, all of the time.
In this blog post I wanted to share some of the reasons, and some of our vision, as to why we’re beginning to go down the remote route for our growing team of WordPress developers.
Our type of client
If you know us at all, especially our MD, you’d know we’re a relentlessly passionate agency and have big visions for growth.
We want to create the very best digital products possible for our clients and for their audience. It’s our vision to be one of the biggest development agencies in the UK, at least where the utilisation of WordPress is concerned.
Part of this growth, and the growth we’ve seen over the last couple of years as an agency, has meant bigger and better clients. Not that we don’t love the clients we’ve already got, but it’s a crucial part of our success to have more challenging work to do, month on month.
Like all design and development agencies, the work we take on has us scratching our heads on how to get it done, which is awesome, that’s what we want. And with this, comes the need for a bigger team and more experienced developers, designers and consultants – with experience in a wider range of capabilities.
With broader brains, more challenges can be tackled and more excitement can be had!
The development challenges
And so to the technical challenges themselves… When a client requires an integration between two specific platforms, or some hard-core backend security work, or consultancy on how to grow a platform parallel to WordPress, where do the knowledge and skills come from?
More than this, how do we fill gaps in the knowledge we already have? Because if you’re a client of ours, then you’d know we’re already taking on the development challenges. When it comes to actually doing the work, both the knowledge and the encouragement of one developer can spare the other on to complete the work they’ve been tasked with.
This is really key because not one guy or girl knows everything they need to know. Which is crucial to our hiring process, sifting out the know-it-all’s and taking on people who are strong developers, but know their weaknesses.
Hiring the right team
Which brings us to actually hiring the team we need! Where are they?
Unfortunately, Cardiff is not exactly a hotbed for developers. As much as we wish that wasn’t the case, it’s what we found to be true.
It’s not just Cardiff though, the UK has a shortage of developers full stop. They are in high demand! And by the way, when those rare people complain about agency rates, this is part of the reason why. And so it’s difficult to find a developer who wants to leave his or her job, let alone find a developer who’ll leave their job, their city, everything they’re used to and come work for you! (Not that it’s impossible.)
So that’s where remote working comes in to play for us at Illustrate. We want the freedom of finding the best developers regardless of location and figuring out whether we’ll be good at working together across the internet – as well as in person every so often.
Tools available to us
How do we practically make that happen then?
It’s all down to the amazing tools available to us (and the people policies we’ve put in place, but that’s boring). There are so many amazing pieces of software available for project tracking, productivity, communication. Products like Slack, a communications tool, are so embedded into our culture now that people who are sat across the office from each other will ask quick questions on it rather than getting up and walking across the room.
These same tools that we’ve gotten so used to using every day, that make us far more effective as a team, are the exact products that we’re using to help connect with our remote team members to make accountability strong, make conversations happen and get projects done.
The WordPress community
The final piece of our thoughts and ideas on going semi-remote is all about the amazing WordPress community that we’ve got in the UK, Europe and across most of the world.
WordPress is a fantastic open source platform that’s managed to create a naturally growing community that’s all about contribution and sharing. The platform itself is built on volunteers, providing their ideas and expertise to help code each next release of the software.
The community is something we love as an agency – it’s full of friendly, open individuals who are eager to work together. This gives us so much scope to take on projects that allow different specialist areas of the work to be done by experts in those capabilities.
In terms of WordPress specialists, these can be related to checkout processes in WooCommerce, integrations with particular systems, specific security issues, basically anything. And how amazing is it for us to have access to this wide range of expertise to help make our WP projects happen successfully.
Of course, this relates to being a semi-remote team in that these individuals from within the community tend to work as freelancers at home. Being setup to work this way makes the possibilities endless!
Do you have an appetite for working with a WordPress agency, whether in Cardiff or remotely? We’re always happy to consider a strong CV or look into a potential partnership, if you’re cool enough of course.
Or… Do you have a pretty awesome project you’d like to work on with us? Get in touch, for sure.
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