David Roland, co-founder of London design studio, Atticus Creative, on friction-free communication and bringing the best bits of office life to remote teams.
David Roland and his partner Sanjay Chauhan founded design and branding studio, Atticus Creative, 13 years ago. Since then, they’ve turned their hand to an impressive array of clients, from Hackney Empire to The Harley Street Clinic, approaching every brief as a bespoke problem and always searching for the killer idea at the heart of it all. A favourite project, explains Roland, was for airline seating manufacturer, Acro. The team transformed Acro from a manufacturer into a brand, through the insight that they’re in the business of space, not seats. This core idea then influenced everything from brand purpose to typography. It’s an example, Roland says of how Atticus like to challenge the brief and question what’s possible, in order to achieve the best results.
Atticus Creative make it all happen via a core team of five full-time employees, who for the past twenty-two months have been collaborating remotely. As Roland explains, it was a move that’s better for both productivity…and pets! “It’s very distracting when you’re in an open-plan office. I found I’m so much more productive at home. And I love my dogs, I spend all my time with my dogs!”
But productivity and dogs notwithstanding, the Atticus team were looking for a way to retain some of the office-like vibe in their new, remote setup, “we started to open up a Google Meet window and have everyone on it, you just have it there in the background. It didn’t really work. We did it a couple of times but…it’s a bit awkward.” Enter, Riff!
Riff is an audio workplace where teams sit in a shared audio space throughout the day, whilst working in separate locations. You can talk to anyone in one click, overhear your team’s conversations faintly in the background, and jump in whenever you need to.
Atticus have shifted many of their internal calls from Google Meet over to Riff. Why? “It’s just more instant”, Roland says. “I love the immediacy of it. With Google Meet there’s still an effort to do it, but with Riff it’s just there. I can click and talk, and…the team will respond straight away.”
As the fastest way to check-in with the remote team, Riff has quickly become embedded in the day-to-day at Atticus. “So we all jump on every day. Usually, we’ll all sign in, so we know everyone’s there. We use it all the time. If I want to talk to our designer, Ruth, I click her icon, have a chat, we can go through some projects. Likewise with anyone else…we’re more productive, because it’s so instant…equally, whenever someone is unavailable to chat, they select the ‘Deep Work Mode’ to let everyone know.”
A way to feel connected
Roland explains how much Riff has transformed his day-to-day working experience “You come in, you log into your emails and that’s kind of static, a dead account, there’s nothing going on. Riff is living. That’s what I feel about Riff…With remote work, I think you just miss the interaction, the feeling that you’re with other people. Otherwise, you’re cut off. With Riff it’s literally just knowing those three are there, and I can talk to them, or tap on the shoulder. It’s just knowing you’re not alone, basically. You’re not sitting there on your lonesome, Johnny-no-mates.”
Riff also helps remote teams like Atticus to recreate a sense of presence and feel ‘seen’ in the office. “Everybody just clicks on their icon, opens it up, and they can see everyone coming in in the mornings, almost like when people come into the office”, Roland says. Even when not directly communicating, this sense of togetherness can be transformative.
“How do you maintain the company culture if everybody’s working remotely? Well, you do it by getting Riff!”
Maintaining company culture remotely
Support with work-related queries is one thing, but Riff has also helped Atticus to restore some of the office social life so frequently missing from remote work. “Quite often if we go on there, we’ll start talking about a project, but then we’ll talk about other stuff. We might talk about film, I’ll talk about my dogs, you know, and we’ll just continue like that”.
He goes on, “the biggest problem you’ve got with remote working…is the problem of company culture. How do you maintain the company culture if everybody’s working remotely? Well, you do it by getting Riff!”
It’s so simple
Like many small businesses, Roland and his team simply don’t have the time or the need for complicated enterprise-level tools that take weeks to get up to speed with. Riff required very little onboarding for Atticus, and was easy to make it stick within the culture. “Like a lot of great ideas — the best thing about it is the simplicity. [Riff] is just easy to use, it’s something you’ll be happy to turn on to every day….it was very easy to embed it.”
Not another inbox
Riff is not another inbox; you’re either there to hear and respond to someone who is speaking to you, or you’re not. There’s no accumulation of messages adding to your to-do list. “It’s not intrusive”, says Roland, “you still have a level of control. If I want everyone to know I’m away, it’s like being in the office, they can see that I’m away…that I’m not at my desk.”
“Like a lot of great ideas — the best thing about it is the simplicity.”
Riff is the piece of the puzzle that’s missing for other teams like Atticus today, helping them communicate instantly and effortlessly, fuelling productivity and fostering a more connected work environment for everyone.
With thanks to David Roland, Co-Founder, Atticus Creative. Learn more at atticuscreative.co.uk
Riff is a lightweight virtual office for high velocity teams. On Riff, teams sit together in audio spaces and share the creative flows that allow them to innovate quickly. Learn more and get access at getriff.co