Published: 11 January, 2023

The old-fashioned way

Working remotely or in an office? Which is best for an affiliate start-up? Will Armitage, Co-Founder of BestOdds, explores...

Covid-19 has ploughed a destructive path across the world since it first reared its ugly head in Wuhan three years ago. It changed the world forever. Not only did it cause great economic and human suffering, but it also accelerated a revolutionary working culture. Working-from-home.

For the first time ever, it was not the likes of artists or carers who were working from home; rather we had industries such as pharma, legal, accounting, finance, entertainment and many more besides quickly adapting to the working remotely modus operandi. It did not take too long for the novelty to wear off and the initial fun of a Zoom or a Teams call waned. As the world realised that Covid was not some passing winter flu, the entrepreneurial zeal of people came to the fore: Why can I not set up my business and run it from my front room?

The result was millions around the world used lockdowns as periods to launch a business. Many used the time to build one-person businesses focussing on a true passion.A few overachievers built unicorns in record time with a large headcount of employees who had never met any of their colleagues in person!

Thanks to the power of modern technology, Linkedin and Zoom, what would have seemed totally alien to previous generations is now wholly feasible. You can build a successful business which operates entirely remotely. It is not easy, mind. With strong and clear leadership, a sense of team camaraderie, hard work and some luck, it is possible to build a brand and successful business on a global scale.

BestOdds began two years ago on the back of an idea and a chance meeting. Fast forward to the present. We now have team members and contributors living in Canada, the US, Colombia, Ireland, England, Germany, Italy and Kenya.

But what about the productivity of this working remotely phenomenon? If I was given the choice, would I rather recruit everyone remotely or have all heads, whether part-time or full-time collaborating in person together in an office?

The likes of Goldman Sachs receive a bad press for how they operate and their perceived ruthlessness. But, frankly most of this seems to stem from jealousy. They simply recruit and retain some of the very best talent, and, together, they have built a massive money-printing behemoth. They have not attained their mantle at the top of the banking pile by gut feel and ceding to a lot of work flexibility. The data showed that working from home reduced employees’ efficiency and productivity. No wonder they were the first to demand their staff return to the office.

The BestOdds team gathers twice a year in meet up in person. We socialise, strategise and learn more about one another’s personalities. These energising sessions are always incredibly productive and enjoyable. They are great for team bonding and brain dumping of ideas. With our small team spread cross four continents, we simply cannot do this more frequently. Having worked for over a decade at IG Group as it grew from a team of 90 in one office to 1,500 across 15 countries, I know how important having teams physically together can be from the perspective of productivity, creativity, camaraderie, and strategic growth. At IG, we worked hard, played hard, and went the extra mile for your colleagues. There was not the distractions of kids, pets, social media, or boxsets during the workday. You lived and breathed work while in the office.

If I was given the choice today between remote or the old-fashioned way, I would be fully in the Goldman Sachs camp of bringing the entire team together full-time under one roof! It simply makes more sense for all the reasons cited above, especially from the creativity and productivity perspectives. The problem for us would be the complexity of making the entire team up sticks from their respective cities to move into one head office.

I wouldn’t change the BestOdds team, but I would love to have us all full-time together in an office. Maybe my wish will come true one day?! I wonder how many other founders with fully remote teams in the affiliate world think the same…