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Going Remote

08.31.21

Goodbye 9 South 12th Street

On October 31, 2013 we, the three owners of Cream Studio, signed a lease on a beautiful studio space in downtown Richmond. It was exciting - like base jumping for the first time - exciting. As if taking this first step was a success in and of itself. We had very little idea of what the future held, but we had no doubt it was the right move for all of our careers and our lives.

Fast forward to today. The world has changed. Our business has changed. Despite, and even perhaps because of the negative impacts that have come out of this past year as we have all struggled to adapt to the pandemic, we have realized that we also have a chance to reflect on what is really important. We have a chance to reset and reconstruct our lives in a better way.

In April we decided it was time to say goodbye to our work-home at 9S 12th Street. As we turned off the lights and locked the doors for the last time we expected to feel a sense of loss, but surprisingly we didn’t. It wasn’t the sense of euphoria that accompanied that first day as a company, but we felt just as certain about our choice. It was as if whatever had guided our decision to come together in this space was now as equally confident that letting go and becoming a remote studio was the correct next move for Cream.

The Shift

Like most other companies that had the luxury of going remote when the pandemic hit in the US, Cream initially did so out of necessity and for the safety of our employees and ourselves. Surprisingly, the shift was almost seamless. The years that we had spent developing processes that streamlined our workflow on the creative side and the business side of things allowed us to easily slip into a steady and effective rhythm while working apart.

The most unanticipated part was that we found ourselves being more productive than ever. We were more focused, most likely because we felt like we needed to be, to compensate for what initially felt like an uncertain way of working. Our communication became quicker, clearer, and somehow still playful and fun. Instead of phone calls, we found ourselves almost always scheduling video chats with clients. We got to see their faces, their hand gestures, and even their kids and pets in the background.

Finding Balance

We’ve always encouraged and supported work/life balance. We never wanted to be a studio that works our team to the bone and constantly expects late nights and long weekends. It has always been important to us to be agile enough to respond to not only the needs of our clients, but the needs of the work-family we are building. Working remotely allowed us to embrace that mindset even further.

We’ve expanded our workforce and started to hire employees in other US cities. Opening up the talent pool has allowed us to recruit amazing people to be a part of our team, something we would have never been able to do if we needed them to live and work in Richmond.

We’ve deepened our relatability to one another and our clients. We’ve become laser focused, more efficient and astoundingly productive.

Intellectually letting go of the studio space was easy. The amount of time we were saving not getting ready for work, buying “work” clothes and commuting, the gas money, childcare costs, toll fees, not to mention the impact on the environment and of course...the time away from our families and pets, all adds up and greatly improved our personal lives and overall happiness. (Un)surprisingly, it became very clear that this way of working was not only better for us as individuals, but also better for the studio overall. We are extremely lucky that we were in a position to make a choice that is better for our owners, our employees and ultimately, our clients.

By closing the doors to our brick and mortar studio we’ve redefined what success looks like to us and opened the doors to this next phase in our development. We don’t know what the future holds but we’re excited to see what happens next.

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