When I first started at Liberty in 2006 (yes it really was that long ago), work began and ended at my PC in the Chelsea workspace every day. As is the nature of PR, sometimes that meant very long days in the office! With no other standard way to check or receive work emails, we stayed put until client and media needs were met. At 25 (ish), with lots of fun co-workers and a fridge full of wine, this wasn’t a problem – but fast forward a decade to a life with a family and it would have been trickier to manage!
It wasn’t long of course until we received our first work smartphones and Liberty emails suddenly became accessible 24/7 – from wherever we were. I’m sure I’m not the only one who found that ubiquitous connection to be a game changer. Far from the potentially negative interpretation of carrying work with me wherever I went, it meant I could leave the office without fear that I would miss something important, and pick up unfinished tasks while on the hop.
But regular working from home was still a way off. It was just too difficult to manage logistically – making sure we had all the files we needed saved to our laptops, or constantly having to ask for things to be emailed over, and then updating the server once we were back in the office. Talk about admin overload!
Even once we had VPNs set up, seamless connections never seemed to be guaranteed, IT support were on speed dial, and we couldn’t work on documents collaboratively. Not only that, but if we weren’t in the office and wanted to ask a quick question of a colleague, sending an email or making a phone call was never as intuitive as speaking to the person across the desk.
After having my second baby and making a break for the country (relatively speaking, compared to London), I took a break from tech PR to run my own local business which enabled me to be closer to home and work flexibly around small people. But post-Covid, I returned to Liberty (and a lovely homecoming it was) to find that the world of remote work as I had formerly known it had completely changed – meaning I can still work closer to home and flexibly, albeit around slightly bigger people now my children are a few years older!
Thanks to the cloud, working from home is a doddle! The speed, flexibility, collaborative ability and convenience of cloud-based tools and services means our team can work from anywhere – and still chat and cooperate almost as if we’re in the same place. There’s no hassle of setting up, or reconfiguring VPNs, or making other network changes, meaning greater productivity.
Cloud-based business apps like Slack, Asana and Teams make team and client communication and project management easy and seamless between desktop and mobile and back again. Our single sign in with Google allows us to work on the same document simultaneously without fear of version chaos. If we’re writing copy on the train on our way home (as I am now) and the battery on our laptop dies, all is not lost! We can pick up where we left off from home. And although this, thankfully, hasn’t been an issue to date, we know that nothing can rival cloud continuity when it comes to disaster recovery.
The remote, cloud-enabled model has been so successful for Liberty that a full return to the office has never been implemented. I personally think that’s a feature that makes us stand out as an employer. Offering a much better work/life balance for all, it’s something that has enabled me to return to a business that is close to my heart after over a decade as a ‘Libertini’ previously.
There is no such thing as a disconnected life anymore, and that does have its drawbacks in some respects. But when it comes to professional life, the opportunities of cloud-based working certainly work for me!