A brief history of our setup
From 2Mb/s to 2Gb/s
Our founding members started working together in 2000, in an office in Dorking, England with a team of 30 sharing a single business internet connection that cost as much as a developer’s salary.
In 2002 the first Agent Design office was created in St Aubin, Jersey, with a team of four and 2Mb/s ADSL internet connection.
In 2004 we built our own office in St Helier, Jersey, completely specified for gigabit high-bandwidth networking – internally – but the best business internet connection we could justify at the time was two 20Mb/s ADSL lines, and it had a maximum upload speed of a very limiting 0.7Mb/s.
By 2015 we had over 20 regular full-time staff in the Jersey offices, saturating the internet bandwidth, and many staff started working more from home for a faster dedicated connection.
Then, in 2016 due to Jersey government’s smart investment in committing to installing optical fibre networking to every building in Jersey   , our offices became one of the first on the island to have a dual Gigabit Fibre connection installed, the wider world was also updating people to fibre, and suddenly everything we dreamed of became possible for our internet services.
Our first significant use of the increase in internet speed was the use of a cloud-based phone system , where we could have phone numbers in every country we served for approximately $1-2 a month plus comparable call-charges to local lines.
Going remote with global offices
Since then, we have eliminated the need for anyone in the team to work from an office, unless they choose to, and we have adopted the growing and excellent offices-as-a-service offering from Regus.
Shared offices enable us to meet and work from almost anywhere in the World, without any of the legacy costs and limitations we had for recruitment and talent-scouting when tied to a single location or creating our own expensive offices in multiple locations, when our core products and services we offer are all digital, and move at the speed of light across borders and timezones.
And, in case you were thinking it; no, none of us works on laptops in coffee shops and hotel receptions – we all tend to have dedicated home offices, with high-powered computers, and multiple large screens, to ensure we all have the performance capabilities we need, without the restrictions or limitations of what may otherwise have be provided by corporate offices.
We used to build and manage our own warehousing for ecommerce fulfilment too – but this has since moved the same way, where there are many specialist logistics and fulfilment services, like Amazon FBA, Shipwire, Fedex Fulfilment, FulfilmentCompanies.net etc. The best 3rd-party logistics services (3PLs) are now all available with mature and sophisticated systems that have API connections, so that we can use just the space and resources we need, and supervise the valuable inventory movements with audited transactional data monitoring, checks, performance indicators and alerts – which, with bonded-warehousing, must meet the highest possible standards for customs monitored data and auditing.
Every single time we have reached the limits and constraints of the do-everything under one roof strategy, we have found many specialist service and skills that can do just what we need, wherever we need it, without any of the old limitations to growth we kept finding with a single-site or single-country setup. And we’re not the only ones…
Billion-dollar remote team companies
In the last few years, some amazing companies have grown rapidly from small beginnings with a completely new mindset for what an organisation is – built by people already familiar, comfortable and often preferring to work remotely for the additional time it creates to grow without unnecessary time and building overheads.
Just as the mind-shift from hosting servers on-site has changed with the realisation of cloud-computing advantages – where we outsource the setup, security and maintenance of server hardware and services to hosting specialists – the same is now happening with a view to the information workers.
When you think about any information role, like marketing for-example, there’s no sense in your social media champions and content creators being constrained by a daily office attendance, when the imagery they need to create needs to be gathered from the outside world and everyday life.
Product imagery can be rendered by 3D CGI graphic artists in between their other freelance projects for advertisers, manufacturers, television, movies and video games – providing a significantly broader experience and higher-standard more affordably, due to the variety of their experience for making smaller or irregular projects possible.
Let’s face it, when IT is on-site, they are often a department in their own right, so consumed with keeping up with the pace of technology that they may have been seen as anti-social in the office anyway. There’s often complex challenges to solve, that don’t lend themselves to the background noise and variable interruption-opportunities of the modern open office – hence the rise in the use of headphones to help with concentration in a noisy environment (which your good author would often wear without anything playing, just to discourage impulsive interruptions).
GitHub is approximately 60% remote, and seeing the value of the systems they created remotely, or remote development collaboration, GitHub was recently been acquired by Microsoft for $7.5 billion dollars – yes!
GitLab proudly promotes their all-remote advantages, shares all their systems, processes, policies and procedures publicly as open-source, and GitLab have recently been valued at $1.1 billion dollars. GitLab sees transparency and community contributions as a competitive advantage for recruitment and client trust.
Notable as the convenience and innovation orientated payment processor of choice for many websites now, Stripe has just announced that their fifth employee team hub is remote-first, and their own page on the subject reflects our experience and aims too: https://stripe.com/blog/remote-hub
You probably already work with many partly or fully-remote organisations without even knowing, because the important thing is the services those teams provide and deliver. Please do add comments and feedback below for any other organisations you think should be included here for similar ethics and inclusive ambitions.
How do we manage online information security and motivation?
Nowadays, with the abundance of computing power, internet bandwidth and web applications – there’s just no significant difference in software speed or experience on any reasonable connection regardless of being in the same building or country.
With the increased capacity for data-storage it is now possible to record every interaction, change and movement of information within the software – so almost everything has an audit-trail for who did what and when – there’s just no mystery as to what everyone is doing because there is an activity feed in all modern systems showing a complete history of who is doing what and when.
Modern Managers are Mentors
The age of managers walking offices and looking over shoulders are long-gone. A modern manager needs to be an expert and mentor, leading by example, requesting only what they have already mastered for their wider team to then scale, and being available for training, consultation and resourcing support on-demand.
Modern managers are often now the personal assistants and distraction removers for the skilled workers – studying performance analytics, and seeking efficiency through simplifying workflows, and structuring the information creation, dissemination and workflow processes through the design and organisation of project management systems and data stores.
Due to the vast amount of information that every worker can now generate every day, it would be a fruitless aim for management to monitor every activity directly – instead, information security is managed through policies, procedures, agreed systems and the general focus on quality and quantity of results – only then do we need to analyse activity data, for identifying and intercepting misunderstandings or improving strategies by reducing unnecessary time-costs or information touch-points.
Audited Activity and Data
The greatest security in our systems comes from the transparency of activity, and peer-to-peer review of information activities, when everyone knows that their team can also see what they are doing.
The mutual obligations between respected and skilled team members, serves as continual motivation to monitor code commits, protect data, information, time-costs, and ones colleagues from risky decisions.
With continual oversight from our skilled colleagues, we have significantly more qualified supervision than any traditional organisation could justify matching with manager numbers.
This is the age of peer-to-peer review, and it scales quickly and safely by design, as this is exactly what all our systems are build to do by design.
How do we recruit our remote team?
We usually start with project and task commissions, either posted to one the many online freelance communities – or direct commissions with the authors of software we already licence, for customisations or similar developments.
This way, we already have a significant experience of the quality and pace of someone’s work, availability and interests, and we can match needs to capabilities and motivations quite seamlessly by allocating more work relevant where it is wanted, and respecting every team member’s specialisms and discretions for their preferred areas to add value to the overall platform and our client’s objectives.
Opening up your talent-scouting recruitment with remote management systems
Possibly one of the best ways we would recommend is to start working with a team or organisation that already does this, such as ourselves of course, although there are many out there now.
Follow how remote teams and consultants do things, ask questions, read through this website and all the tips and tools recommendations, and open your mind to focus on the results- to then let those passionate and motivated deliver them, and help you adapt and evolve to broaden your skills and horizons too.
A good start, for those that haven’t already made the move to cloud-service, is starting with an agreed official chat application, like Discord, Slack, Teams, or similar.
Of course, there are many, many other alternatives in each of these areas – just ask us if you want a second-opinion on the value or considerations for any of these decisions.
With those three pillars in place – you won’t even notice or care who is in or out of the office – just who is doing what, and how your skilled-teams just don’t need traditional management – they need the right tools and motivations, and then the freedom to give it their all and deliver the results they are proud of for their team.
Let us know your comments, feedback and experiences below, or privately by contacting us directly.