Three employees in three offices, in three different U.S. cities. Plus a cadre of contractors and freelancers around the globe.
That describes Proef Trend Consultants, a consultancy that works with its clients on everything from new product development to branding, based upon its consumer-trend forecasts.
“We would not be able to work without Skype,” says Marieke van der Poel, Proef’s founder. “It’s been a part of the business since I started it two years ago. I got used to using Skype when I worked for a company in France while I lived in San Francisco.”
Marieke still works in San Francisco, and her two employees each maintain Proef’s other offices in New York City and Orange County, California. The creative trio use Skype for ongoing communication and collaboration, among themselves and with their consultants.
“We do a lot of group ideation, and we like to use Skype video for brainstorming. I might write something on a whiteboard and share with the others,” Marieke says.
“Sometimes we just have Skype on while we’re working. We leave the video on in the background. It’s really fun, and it’s practical for me, because I know what’s going on in the other locations.”
[Editors note: Check out Skype president Tony Bates’ post on “ambient video” for more info on using Skype the way Marieke describes].
“I’ve been working with a brand strategist, and when he was in London, screen sharing has been really helpful,” she says.
In fact, one of the biggest benefits she’s found is that Skype makes it possible for her team to be so geographically dispersed.
“It’s great to be able to keep on working with someone even though they’re in London for a couple months, to be able to get on with the project. I work with people in France, the Netherlands. Skype makes that possible” says Marieke.
Although Proef’s employees frequently work solo, Skype unites them.
“With Skype, it feels like we’re much more connected. It makes communication easier, and it’s less hard to work on your own. Sometimes it feels nice to be part of a team. To get through the day together. And to show each other our hair colors,” Marieke says with a laugh. “We all have weird hair colors.”
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Photo: from left, Alexis Badiyi (fashion and design producer, editor at large, New York office lead; Sydel Sakuma (Deputy in Chief, Strategy and Investigation Socal office Lead); Marieke van der Poel (Chief Creative officer)
Photo credit: Juliette Tinnus