Ilfracombe is a beautiful town.
Whichever way you look, you see marvellous views: the harbour, the sea, Hillsborough, the Torrs.
10 years ago I probably would not have imagined moving my office 200 miles from Berkshire to North Devon, 50 miles from the nearest motorway and even further from the nearest international airport. How could I continue working with corporate clients?
But all that has changed and here I am, writing this article in Ilfracombe.
Broadband internet access and advanced telecommunications make this possible. Now Simon and I work as a virtual partnership, collaborating with each other on client projects by phone and email. We work this way with many clients too, and some we never meet.
Does this really work?
The answer is: yes.
While there are benefits to face-to-face meetings, they do waste time in travel. Travelling from Windsor into London could add three or more hours to a 45-minute meeting and, of course, the distances between towns in the West Country add to travel times too.
So the ability to develop effective relationships remotely is very beneficial, especially when a client rings up with an urgent request for work that needs to be completed at the last minute.
Efficiency and cost savings
The capability to receive a fully designed document as a PDF file emailed from a client in the City of London, to proofread and annotate it with amendments in Devon, and to email it back to the client within hours is truly revolutionary and very efficient. There’s no travel, no courier, no time delay and no travel expenses.
It suits both large corporate clients and small businesses, and it enables us to respond more flexibly.
Maintaining satisfied clients
Clients are happy because they know that we are on the end of a phone or at a computer, ready to work on their projects.
The reality is that the distance between us – 2, 20 or 200 miles – no longer matters. The client relationship is the same as if we were in the same room together.
As well as providing cost savings for clients, we can use the travel time saved more productively.
So is there a place for face-to-face meetings in modern business? Yes, of course, and we enjoy balancing both methods of doing business.