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Start Your Business Success Stories

I Ditched the Office to Travel the World and It Made Me a Better Boss

I Ditched the Office to Travel the World and It Made Me a Better Boss Credit: potowizard/Shutterstock

Before I started my digital marketing company, The Content Factory, I worked in advertising – and my mornings were hell.

It started with an alarm clock screeching at 6 a.m., continued for about an hour and a half of unpaid labor while I "got ready" to do a job I was already ready to do, and then wrapped with a 30-minute commute each way to and from a parking garage downtown. The 8-plus hours per day I spent in my cubicle left much to be desired, as well.

When I created my company in 2010, I swore to myself and whoever else would listen that things would be different if I were in charge. The Content Factory started off as a copywriting agency, focused on SEO – the perfect example of work that could be done from home – or anywhere. So, having an office was never part of our company culture, even when I was the only person at the company. If I didn't want the pre-work grind for myself, why would I want that for my employees?

Eventually, the company grew to include a dozen employees and our services expanded to include social media marketing and digital PR. All of this work can also be done remotely, which is good, because my staff is scattered across seven states and three time zones. 

There are a lot of benefits to allowing your employees to work remotely, beyond giving them more of their own time back (I tallied up the time cost alone, and it works out to 500-plus hours per year). When workers have that time back, they're happier and less stressed. The turnover rate at my company is very, very low.

The most obvious benefit to me as a business owner is that it allowed me to keep overhead costs down and become competitive with more established agencies. Letting everyone work from home enabled me to source employees from anywhere in the country, which serves the purpose of both keeping costs down and acquiring better talent.

Also, I judge that talent based entirely on the quality and timeliness of their work – we've got a real meritocracy going, and there are no office politics or playing favorites. As long as the results for clients are there and the work is being done on time, everything's copacetic.

To keep everyone on track, I was forced to develop processes and workflow documents early on. In a traditional office environment, it would've been easier for me to put that off – or never get around to it at all.

With all of these processes, workflow docs, time tracking and other tools and methods of accountability that we'd implemented, my staff was able to achieve even more flexibility in their work and lifestyles. "Workationing" together as a team and as individuals is part of our company culture, and NBC News recently featured The Content Factory in an article about CEOs who take job perks to the max.

Last year, I worked from 10 different countries and fine-tuned our processes while I spent two months traveling through Europe (working along the way, of course). This year, I'm spending all of 2017 traveling around the world, recording my adventures and discussing the benefits of living intentionally on The Workationing Podcast and website.

My employees also frequently go on workations, and I fully support it – especially since it's never negatively impacted any client work. If anything, everyone works harder (or at least, more efficiently) so that this flexibility continues to be an option for the team. Nobody wants to ruin it for themselves, or anyone else!

Traveling expands our perspectives, makes us all better informed, and enhances our sensitivity to both global and domestic issues – all of this translates to better work for our clients. Members of my staff have workationed from places like Morocco, Paris, the back of their band's tour bus – and the quality of their work has never suffered.

If you're a business owner whose employees can work remotely, I encourage you to develop some processes (or put your existing ones to the test) and untether your team a little. Setting my company up this way has been the best thing I've ever done. It's made me a better business owner and boss, and chances are good you can reap at least some of these benefits, too.

Credit: Kari DePhillips

About the author: Kari DePhillips is the owner of The Content Factory, a digital PR agency that represents several national and international brands. She's also the co-host of The Workationing Podcast and website, which documents her travels around the world and adventures in living intentionally.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Fallon.