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Remote Possibilities.

Ed. Note: We’ve been waiting on this announcement for a few days now, until we’d made sure all of our clients knew. After nearly two years as a “typical” office with a “space you commute to every morning” and “a bathroom that requires a key” attached to a “knicknack of some kind,” Marshall Creative has made a leap into a brand-new mode of working that looks to increase both our productivity and our staff’s satisfaction with the work environment (because in most cases, that environment is also going to be the place we call home).

Web Project Manager Dan Granata shares this meditation on what it means to take the workplace out of the workplace, and other ways we’re now able to reshape the idea of what an office can be.

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This week, it became The Future.

You could argue it’s been The Future for a while now. For years, my roommate and I have paused at various moments– controlling our 4-inch-thick high-definition TV with our phones, instantly watching Murder, She Wrote episodes whenever we want, being able to know which pub our friend is at in Wales at any given moment–and said, “I love living in the future.”  We’re among the last generation (actually, being born circa 1980, we’re among the last of the last generation) who have living memory of a time before computers, when you stretched the curling cord down the hall and under your closed door to have a private phone call; when the biggest threat to the Motion Picture Association of America was the VHS tape; when you knew your phone was ringing by the ringing sound it made.

We were the first kids who got ColecoVisions, Ataris 2600 and NESes; and we were the ones astonished when, just a few years later, we had SuperNESes and Sega Genesises (Geneses? Genesi?) and then N64s and Playstations 1, 2 and 3 and Xboxes of varying degrees. In the span between my sophomore and junior years in college, the reaction to cellphones went from, “What are you, a doctor?” to “You don’t have a cellphone?” We might be the first generation for whom Moore’s Law became a fact of life (and the last generation to remember The Facts of Life).

But that’s not the future I mean. What I’m talking about is the sort of life I have imagined for myself since before I learned that the best way to deal with hostile mushrooms was to jump on their heads…a magical land where I am able to focus my skills and creative energy into work that I’m proud of, and that makes the world slightly more awesome. Where I could work with a group of incredibly talented, like-minded individuals to do more than any of us could ever do alone.

The Grand Experiment that is Marshall Creative has been just that. Running a small business is not easy, by any means– and working for and with your friends is as fraught with pitfalls as it is full of Wonderful–but it is in almost every respect my dream job. Whereas many folks get by with a “day job” that supports their creative endeavors, I get to make stuff all day long, and in fact, have learned new skills, which has opened up new possibilities in my non-Marshall work, which feeds back into what we do here, and on and on. But the goal for all of us…maybe for everybody, everywhere…has been to do more of what we love to do and less bullshit.

And this week, we took a big leap in the right direction. After two years in our hip River North offices, Marshall Creative’s team now works remotely, full time.

For me, this is the next step in the eradication of the already-blurry line between what I used to call my “day job” and my “night job.” In fact, I am writing this from my new command center in my apartment, and across from me is a corkboard with story ideas for a script I’m writing. Later today, when I’ve wrapped up some post-launch notes for the Paramount Theatre’s new website (which you should check out – I’m insanely proud of it), and Nick and I have hammered out an Information Architecture for The Coolest Project I Have Worked On So Far, I’ll close down MAMP, open a new window in Textmate, and seamlessly continue the dialogue for the scene I started this weekend.

So while there are some obvious material benefits to this next phase (offices are expensive, after all) – all that stuff is, for us, measured in terms of the bigger goal: two hours not commuting is two more hours we can use to actually do stuff. We like our jobs, we like each other, we like our clients and we like the work – a “distributed” office lets us do more of it. We’ve worked really hard over the past few years to make this happen, and we’re lucky enough to live in a time where all that technological innovation we’ve experienced in our lifetimes makes all of this not only possible, but actually more efficient.

I love living in The Future.

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