For a creative studio, determining where to be located can be a daunting and complicated topic. The importance of it is unquestionable as it affects everyone involved: the staff, the vendors, the business and the clients.
At MOWE, we see location as a vital characteristic of our studio. Throughout the years we considered the multiple ways it can affect us as a remote business and learned how to use it as a tool for different aspects of our business. We discussed this topic a lot internally during the last months due to our decision to expand into Europe — as part of a plan to explore new lands and opportunities outside of the USA.
Since this topic might resonate with you, I would love to guide you through the 3 aspects behind our decision-making process.
1. Using timezones in our favor
One of the biggest challenges of producing creative work remotely is working across a wide range of different timezones.
An example of this was the challenge we had while making an animated commercial for an event-focused software development company from Australia. Since at the time MOWE was based in Brazil, our biggest struggle on the project was overcoming the 13-hour time difference between both teams. Even though it didn’t end up being the best experience for us as individuals because we had to endure a crazy schedule for a month or so, at the end of the day the project’s development was smooth and the result was great. This experience was the first time we noticed that our creative studio ’s location could be a real challenge.
Now, living in Barcelona, I see how this whole experience could have been waaaay different. The previous 13-hour timezone challenge would be today a much more feasible 8-hour difference — and based on our experience, 8 hours is the most distant you can be from someone without requiring big changes to your work routine.
Being in Barcelona gives me a strategic advantage and allows me to be:
- 8 or fewer hours behind Australia.
- A few hours behind or ahead of most countries in Europe and Africa.
- 6 Hours ahead of New York
- 9 hours ahead of Los Angeles and Vancouver.
Using timezones in our favor allow us to do our best work for the best businesses and with the best professionals we can find around the world — all of that without big compromises to our work hours or lives.
2. Immersing ourselves in a multicultural Creative Field
It’s unquestionable how many talents Brazil exports — there’s a great chance that you either know or met a great Brazilian professional in other big agencies or creative studios. Still, the creative field in Brazil isn’t truly valued neither by the government nor the businesses. One of the results of this is a culture of overworking and underpaying workers, which most of the time results in frustration and burnout from those professionals. This lack of support and respect were some of the reasons why we did our first big change in terms of business, stepping out of Brazil and going to the USA.
Another result of this lack of support for the field is the small number of events and conferences for the area, especially when you compare with places like the USA and Europe.
Even though the United States has a strong creative industry with many events and amazing professionals, compared to Europe it lacks the diverse cultural background that the latter has to offer. Whenever you go to a conference in Europe you can experience the local culture of the country and its creative field, as well as the culture of each individual that came from a different country. This diversity can sparkle amazing discussions and insights capable of opening your eyes to different points of view and experiences that you never thought about.
As professionals and business owners, if we want to innovate and think differently, it’s essential for us to see and understand the distinctive perspectives and practices of different cultures.
3. Being face to face with clients
As my business partner already explained in his article about the importance of being more in-person when you work remotely, even though remote work is the future of the work environment, online interactions aren’t perfect. That’s why we have team trips every year where the whole team can all hang out for a few days, discuss a bit about the studio’s future and most of all, enjoy ourselves as individuals outside of our jobs and daily tasks.
In a fast-paced world like the one we live in right now, it’s really easy to just get a briefing, do it and move on to the next one. On the other hand, building a strong relationship with a client allows you to do way more and way faster. How do you do that? You can exchange emails, chat on slack, discuss ideas on video calls but nothing will develop more your relationship than real interaction.
As our Revthinker friend, Joel Pilger, always says to his clients: “Experts travel”. My business partner and I have been doing this a lot more since 2018 and we were able not only to meet new potential clients but we got closer to those who already have been working with us. Expertise isn’t something you can find in any corner so if a client trusts you, they will do whatever they can to have you leading the way while you protect them from the problems that might lead to failure down the road.
On one of our most recent experiences, a client asked us to be available for two entire days during their process of script reviews, test reads and voice-over recordings. They desired our support and expertise in animation to provide them with insights, ideas and general directions on how the process could be improved to result in better videos down the road. It was an amazing experience with many great outcomes: The new videos came out great and a lot of small changes occurred in the project’s process due to that two-day experience together.
Having real interactions that lead to stronger relationships with our clients allows our projects to be more successful — Knowing more about their problems, branding and marketing goals, gives us space to try new things and push new boundaries.
But that’s not all…
Even though being in Europe allow us to travel and engage way more easily with our clients, it’s also important to highlight something really important for us. Back in the day when we started MOWE, we had 3 main motivations behind the whole idea of building our creative studio.
- We knew our work was capable to benefit businesses around the world and not only the Brazilian market
- We wanted to do great work with great people, no matter where they were.
- We had specific dreams in life and we wanted to have the freedom to live the life we wanted.
Relocating to Europe allow us to be true to our business principles as it helps us to achieve each one of those goals we set up. Our plan is to continue our path as a global business — with a mix of talents from Brazil and the rest of the world, the business being operated from the USA and with my partner and I being present in Europe, traveling to meet the best clients and connecting with amazing people in all kinds of events in the field.
If I had to leave you with a simple conclusion about this topic, it would be this:
Location is an important tool in the remote world and people need to think of it as a strategic advantage instead of a fixed point on a map.
If you live in(or plan to visit) either Lisbon or Barcelona, invite my business partner(firstname.lastname@example.org — LIS) or me(email@example.com — BCN) for a coffee, juice, gin, beer,… we love to discuss everything business or animation-related.
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