30 March 2020

Can remote working make you smarter? Yes. Remote working forces you to work smarter, especially if you work in a creative or technical field. Remote working can also be a complete arse though, too.

I’ve been using remote working before it was really a thing – including for some of the largest and most complex ventures in recent history. 4 minutes of video to explain how you may get smarter by being locked down, and workarounds for three of remote working’s biggest failings…


Hi, I’m Will Glendinning, I’m a Producer, Designer, Writer and Director.

Now, pretty much everyone is using remote working – out of necessity more than anything else, but it’s my view that remote working can actually make you smarter and work smarter, too.

I’ve been using remote working in some way, shape or form in a sense before remote working was really a thing. In fact, one of the largest events ever staged, one of the most complex projects ever delivered back in the day was actually pretty much coordinated and planned using various forms of remote working, and back then, we even had to develop our own software for distributing information and documents because Dropbox didn’t exist, Basecamp wasn’t a thing and there wasn’t really anything useful that did that. We literally had to start from scratch. So I’ve got some experience in this field.

Working remotely, especially in any creative or technical field, forces you to think differently. You have to find different ways of articulating things and better ways of describing things.

It’s similar in a way to a conversation I was having with a top lawyer, a top litigator a few years ago. I could never work out why they didn’t write their own letters and their own documents. Instead, they’d dictate things and then hand over that dictation to a bank of secretaries. I thought it’d surely be faster to do it themselves. But they explained the reason they dictate what they want written is that if they dictate it, they have to form the argument in their mind, and find a better ways of articulating their point or creating an argument or describing something. It just forces better, more disciplined thinking.

Working remotely forces the same improvements. You can’t rely on body language or waffle or body language or gesticulation as much as you can in face-to-face meetings. And you find then, too, that people who are used to working remotely, they’re far more useful in face-to-face meetings, as well. They’re more concise, more considered and more productive.

There are times when working remotely doesn’t work as well as being in the same office, and I want to look at three in particular and solutions to each of them.

Now, the first one is if you’ve got staff or employees or people who are, let’s say, less motivated or lazy or complacent – working remotely then, you do see productivity drop through the floor. Now, most of the time, this could be solved with looking at how people are rewarded and remunerated.

Secondly, if there’s a raft of information to digest and distribute before a meeting or in a meeting, for goodness sake, get it distributed and get it digested before the remote meeting starts. Now, clearly this is a problem in face-to-face meetings, as well, but you find in remote meetings or video meetings, video conferences – that for some reason, the issue just gets amplified and just becomes more frustrating.

And thirdly, if you’ve something that needs designing and creating at breakneck speed, it just works better if everyone’s in the same room. This could be anything from an advert or a film or a digital project that needs to be delivered yesterday or a building that needs to be designed and built quickly or an event that’s run out of time to plan it and develop it properly. It just works better if everyone’s in the same room. People can pick up things by osmosis. They can overhear things. They can nip problems in the bud when they start rather than letting them drag on. It just works. Now, if you have to do that remotely, it can work, and rather than have constant video calls all day or different video conferences at different times of the day with different people, you can just leave video streams open so that everyone working on the project together are connected all day long or over prolonged periods. That way you can overhear what people are saying, what people are doing and the various conversations going on. Now, it is a bit weird at first, but you do get used to it, and it can work. If you have to do something quickly that’s creative or technical and you need everyone working together towards that same aim. It does work.

So those are my thoughts on remote working and some workarounds for common problems.

If one good thing comes out of all of this, it’s my hope that remote working is far more widely accepted as part of the working mix. It forces us to work smarter and maybe become smarter, too.

Thanks for watching.

Thanks for your time.

Thoughts welcome, and I’ll speak to you again soon.