Why We Started REED’s Work Away Program

By Katherine Green

In the fall of 2022, my colleague Macey and I embarked on the longest flight in the world—19 blissful hours in the air. We were traveling for the biannual Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) conference in Singapore. The conference is a strategic gathering of agency leaders from more than 50 PR firms worldwide. It was our first time in Asia and our first meeting with the network in our new roles as vice presidents.

We were given the opportunity to attend the conference by our president and founder, Lauren, around the time we were promoted a few months earlier. With my new role, I became the lead of human resources and some aspects of operations, so Lauren asked me to attend the PRGN conference to discuss challenges and learn from others who lead those areas of their business. I was shocked, nervous and excited. This was an opportunity I never expected to have.

Around the time we found out we’d be going to Singapore, we also heard about another PRGN agency’s Work Away program. The program enables employees to work remotely anywhere in the world for up to a month, as long as they keep local agency hours. After hearing about this unique benefit, our leadership team, Macey, Lauren, our colleague Tayhlor and I (Amanda joined later that year!), decided to pilot our own Work Away program at REED for the following year.

A few months later in Singapore, I met David Wills, senior vice president at Toronto’s Media Profile, the masterminds behind Work Away. Listening to his stories about employees who had worked remotely through the program solidified my confidence that this would be an impactful perk. It also confirmed our decision to build in a requirement to visit local PRGN agencies during Work Away trips, so all REED employees can foster global industry relationships and learn how to service our clients better.

Returning from the conference, I reflected on the trust and value I felt from Lauren after this genuinely life-changing trip. I recognized that our Work Away Program would allow us to extend this feeling and the impact of PRGN to our entire team, proving our confidence in them to excel from anywhere.

Flash forward to summer 2023, and Macey, Tayhlor and I have all taken a Work Away trip, in addition to REED’s senior account coordinator, Louise. I chose to work solo in Lisbon, Portugal, and Florence, Italy, each for one week.

It was my first time in Portugal, so I asked for recommendations from our PRGN partner, Global. I also worked in their beautiful office, complete with a fashion closet, and met with their founder and CEO, Isabel Jorge de Carvalho, and their executive director, Isaura Costa de Andrade. Lisbon inspired me with creative ideas for our restaurant clients and gave me insight into how tourism could even further affect our “small town” of Nashville.

My next stop was Florence, where I studied abroad years ago during my time at the University of Georgia. Being there made me proud of how much I’ve accomplished since I was 21 and presented me with many opportunities to discuss company culture and the media landscape with international friends I met.

Working away reminded me that breaking out of your everyday norm is energizing and a key to preventing burnout. Also, international travel is a confidence booster! If I can rearrange my overweight suitcases for the fourth time in the baggage drop alone at the Lisbon airport, I can do anything.

The ability to calmly pivot in a challenging situation like a foreign bag drop is one of the many skills, interests and traits required to work remotely. They are many of the same that we look for when hiring and growing talent, including:

  • Connecting with new people
  • Strategic planning
  • Juggling multiple priorities and interests
  • Communicating in challenging environments
  • Storytelling
  • Thinking outside-of-the-box
  • Problem-solving
  • Inspired creativity
  • Independence
  • Time management
  • Hunger to learn
  • Courage

As more new people and businesses move from all over the world to Nashville, it’s vital for our team to be excited to learn new things, meet new people and understand what communities are like outside of our bubble.

At the risk of being cheesy, COVID’s profound impact taught us that there is no time to waste in fulfilling your dreams, especially if that dream is traveling the world. We don’t want anyone to have to choose between doing that and working with our company, especially when the experience strengthens the skills and creativity of our team. REED has always been a unique company, from our Be the Good program to our diverse client roster, and we are proud to recruit and retain talent with rare benefits like our Work Away program.