We switched to home working on 16 March – a week before official lockdown started in the United Kingdom. It was, in fact, quite an easy decision to make and, because of the nature of our business, not a lot more complicated to put into practice.

Some members of our team worked remotely prior to the Coronavirus pandemic. Some in Hull and East Yorkshire; one in Leeds and one almost as far away as is possible in Wellington, New Zealand. So we had experience in the advantages and disadvantages of not always being in the same office. As a result, we were well-prepared to follow the work from home advice from the Government.

Communications

We migrated our landlines to VOIP over a decade ago and, at the end of 2019 brought together all our communications through Microsoft Teams. The ability to have everyone we work with chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place, no matter where we are is something we put in place for our exhibition business. Every year we visit places as far afield as Houston and Hamburg; Stavanger and Shanghai. When we are away from the office, we still need to be able to communicate as if we are in the office. Our philosophy is always to put the client first. If they want to talk to us about an existing job or brief us on a new project, they quite correctly expect is to be available.

Microsoft Teams allows us be available even 8 or 9 time zones away. So when we needed to work remotely due to the Coronavirus pandemic, working away from the office really was almost business as usual

Security and access to files

Again, as a result of regularly having to work remotely, cloud storage is a concept we embraced early. RMP Design lives in Dropbox Business. It allows us access to all our files wherever we are in the world; to easily collaborate with clients and suppliers; and gives us peace of mind that our data (and that of our clients) is safe and secure. So when we had to relocate and work separately, we just had to pick up our MacBooks and take our work with us.

Administration and back office

Prior to the pandemic, we were in the early planning stages of implementing a new accounting system. Our previous on premise system was proving inflexible with the move to remote working. Accessing historic data was cumbersome and a hurdle to having full visibility. COVID-19 proved a catalyst in accelerating the switch to a cloud-based solution. Having looked at various options on the market, we migrated to Xero during April with a plan to run the old and new systems in parallel for at least a quarter. However, the switch was so pain free that by June we were running Xero alone.

While creativity and ability to meet the marketing objectives of its clients is at the heart of a successful design agency, the day-to-day efficient running of a business is equally important. Streamtime studio management software brings order to the creative side of the business. From CRM, resource planning, quoting, job management and purchasing, Streamtime ensures our creative solutions are delivered on time and on budget – every time. Accessible by the team wherever they are, Streamtime has become even more indispensable during lockdown. It also has the added benefit of integrating very closely with Xero saving large amounts of time and potential error by removing the necessity to enter data twice.

Post Lockdown

As we progressed through lockdown, it became clear that it was unlikely that we would be returning to our office in the near future. Government advice remained work from home where you can [this was updated 10 July]. It still remains safer to work from home – even with relaxation of social distancing rules, the traditional office environment still carries certain risks. We could not identify any disadvantages of continuing to work as we have since mid-March, but we could see signifiant advantages including greater efficiency; lower costs and less environmental impact. We took a business decision that we no longer needed an office for the whole team.

New address

So from 13 July, we will be relocating our physical address to 7 Alma Close, Kirk Ella, East Yorkshire, HU10 7LH. All other contact details and everything else about RMP Design remains the same. It’s business as usual but we are now leaner and fitter and better prepared to meet the challenges of the post-COVID world.