Where you want to be matters
A different way of understanding work is possible. It has to be. This was the almost obsessive thought —and what I now prefer to call intuition— that has guided us for the last seven years and a doubt that became the final catchphrase in most of the decisions that have shaped Soluble and its purpose through brand management: Making people happier at work.
It's not that unique. Is working like this the only option? Is there no other way to do it? These are questions we —and I'm sure you too— have asked ourselves at one time or another.
A different matter is where these questions lead us. Many times they’ve led me to frustration, others to take small steps in what I consider to be the right direction. The sum of the latter is what has allowed me to move forward. And that's exactly what these posts are about, what I’m learning on this path of discovery about other ways of understanding work.
A few weeks ago I shared the case of Quaderno and the time its team dedicates to their job. Because time is so valuable and, along with it, always comes another fundamental coordinate: space.
Until just a few years ago, the general rule that no one questioned was that going to work also meant going to a specific, physical and delimited space. With the pandemic, such absolute truth was rendered meaningless when hundreds of thousands of people shifted, from one day to the next, to work from their homes.
At Soluble, doing our work without sharing an office in Barcelona was a change that implied a cultural transformation that was difficult to implement and maintain. On-site work determined our way of doing and thinking. And with the disappearance of the common physical space, our processes, dynamics and habits had to change. But it was possible. And three years later, we’re working fully remotely while still encouraging people to meet whenever they want or need to; not out of obligation, but out of conviction. And now, instead of doing it only in Barcelona, they can also do it in A Coruña, Lanzarote, León, Elche, Oviedo, Vic or Madrid.
Madrid and Barcelona, those two big great cities. The place to be. Where everything happens. Everything? For more than a decade I’ve been surrounded by entrepreneurs with more than enough courage and initiative. And yet, it’s not uncommon to hear from people who break the statu quo that states that for things to happen, to have access to innovation, for a venture to be successful... "you have to be in a big city".
Being from Extremadura myself, today I’d like to share some cases that inspire me and make me question those statements.
Let's start with a long-standing partner. Cuerva is a family-owned company that has been operating in the energy sector for more than 80 years. But beyond that, innovation has always been at its core. Decades ago it was with a donkey, but in recent years its projects, actions and learnings stand out in the energy ecosystem at a European level. And where’s all this happening? Always from Granada.
For what’s happened to Mi tienda de arte, now Craftelier, they didn't need to be in any other place than a city of 150,000 inhabitants. From León, their e-commerce had a turnover of over 22 million euros in 2022 and was then considered to be among the 500 fastest-growing Spanish companies. They’re still in the same place from where they made their first sale, and millions of orders later that prove that yes, it is possible, I listen to a conversation with my friend Pepe from Minimalism, in which Victor says: "They’ve managed to give us a complex by telling us that you can never make it from such a small place, that to evolve you have to go to Madrid... That way of thinking is still out there. There were investors who, in order to bet on projects, including those in rural areas, demanded they move to Barcelona or Madrid".
Against the stigma, more realities. Declarando manages to capture Visma's attention with its management proposal for freelancers from Castellón. Quaderno —which has also just been acquired by this European software leader— is a reference not only because of their business model but also because of their work model, which attracts the attention of American talent; and they do so from the Canary Islands.
And the last one for today, with a little less time behind it and a future full of success ahead. Mentiness revolutionizes mental health by joining psychology and analytics from Vilagarcía de Arousa.
Getting to know these examples helps me confirm that there’s a different way of working and that we need to know about it in order to have all the options that allow us to make our work more adapted to how —and, of course, where— we want to live our lives.
Nothing happens at Soluble due to the efforts of just one person. This article wouldn’t have been possible without the participation of Ismael Barros in writing, Andrea Martínez in English translation, and Anna Bohigas in visual design.