Man in a van: The ultimate remote working
There’s no denying the pandemic impacted where many of us work. And that’s certainly been the case for Octopus Group’s account director Jack Ferris, who took remote working a little too literally and moved into a converted van. He recently spoke with Digiday about this emerging trend, and he shares a few more thoughts on his story and the changing role of the office below.
Van to Sales
In September last year, after a few months of working from home, my wife and I decided that we’d had enough of living in London, and wanted to get back out into nature. But we also weren’t ready to settle down into the commuter belt suburbs, ready for the office to reopen.
That’s where we came up with a slightly crazy idea. What if we didn’t need to live in a home made from bricks? What if we didn’t need to stay in one place?
We bought a big white builders van and had it converted into a tiny home on wheels. For just under a year we’ve been working remotely from the likes of Devon and Cornwall. And, well – it’s been pretty awesome.
Like many people, remote and flexible working has been fantastic for my mental health and given me a hugely improved work life balance. And I’d also argue it’s made me a better, more productive worker.
Working from Van, I come into mornings full of energy and creativity after a run or walk along a beach, rather than emerging into an office from a sweaty, packed tube train. I’m constantly energised by visiting new, beautiful places. And it’s also added an extra, quirky talking point to meetings with our clients (a few of them now even follow me on Instagram..!)
Flexible working is a winner for me, as I’m sure it is for other people for a multitude of reasons.
A hybrid working future
But that’s not to say the office doesn’t have its place – it’s just that its purpose is evolving. The pandemic has shown us that remote working can work, but after over a year, the need for face-to-face connection has never been clearer.
Collaboration, interaction and learning with colleagues is a lot harder to do on a Zoom or Teams call. And don’t get me started on virtual beer o’clock v. real, in-person beer o’clock at The Octopus Group‘s new office pub, The Pregnant Man.
OG’s new plan for hybrid working – championed by our parent group Publicis – ties into this new model of working pretty handsomely. It’s called Heads Up, Heads Down and Heads Together, and it puts the trust in individuals to work in the most effective way for the task at hand.
Heads Down time will see me focusing on solo work, when you’ll likely find me and the van parked up next to the ocean or an awesome view. Heads Together will see me heading into London for meetings with clients and team members (as well as a few pints with fellow OGers), and Heads Up will be a mixture of the two – sometimes in the office with colleagues, or sometimes working from a beach, a forest or hillside.
Working from a campervan probably isn’t for everyone. But for me, for now, this new found flexibility is a winner. (And if anyone knows where I can park a sprinter van around Chancery Lane, do let me know in the comments).