This cloud-based agency takes remote working to the next level

Be honest, who hasn’t dreamed of working remotely with all the perks of employment? If you’ve got the skills, you only need to look UP to make that dream a reality.

This cloud-based agency takes remote working to the next level
Photo: UP

It’s not a stretch to say that the internet has totally changed the way we work. More people are choosing to work remotely and companies that don’t let them quickly lose them.

One smart marketing agency was quick to use this shift to their advantage. UP, the world’s first full-service cloud-based agency, uses technology to connect a team of global top talent. The agency delivers fully-integrated brand, marketing and digital services to international clients while its ‘members’ get all the benefits of ‘e-ployment’.

“UP’s model attracts people who want to work anywhere, anytime – all you need is a laptop and an internet connection,” says Digital Strategist, Fredrik Holmboe.

Holmboe joined the UP community as Head of Inbound and Content Marketing a little over a year ago having spent over a decade working in the pharmaceutical industry. He’s based in Stockholm, one of many cities worldwide including Uppsala, Hamburg, Amsterdam, London and New York where UP has creative spaces.

Keep up to date! Discover the latest insights on UP’s blog

Members can decide for themselves whether they work out of the creative spaces or remotely. True to UP’s business model, teams are built based on competences and not on their physical location.

Photo: UP

“It gives us a competitive edge when it comes to having the right specialists in the right teams at the right time,” Holmboe told The Local. “When a client that we’re helping with digital communication strategies suddenly asks if we can produce high-quality podcasts, shoot high-end fashion photos, or conduct an in-depth market research, I have the utmost confidence to arrange a meeting with the specialists in our community.”

But can a remote team work as effectively and efficiently as a traditional team? Having delivered campaigns like Polaroid: Making a massive impact at CES, Nobel Peace Prize Concert and Microsoft: Marketing 365, UP proves it is indeed possible to pull off killer campaigns with a distributed workforce. 

The agency has even developed their own bespoke software platform to manage their finance and administration through the cloud. 

As for the day-to-day schedule, Fredrik says the time zones within the community are a real advantage when it comes to meeting a tight deadline.

“We don’t have a predefined schedule, it all boils down to the few hours in the Swedish afternoon when the US’s West and East coasts are awake. If a client calls us late in the afternoon with an emergency, for example an 8 page mini-brochure for the next day or, a HTML e-mail blast starting from scratch with a deadline in two days, we can begin the work in Europe and then call upon our US members to continue. It’s proven to be a real strength.”

The professional advantages are clear but there are obvious personal pluses too.

“If you can reduce your commuting time and instead use virtual online possibilities to meet colleagues or clients, you have a better chance of finding the balance of professional and private life,” says Fredrik.

Reinventing the concept of a marketing agency

“With our unique business model our constant aim is to do more, achieve more and deliver more than any other agency – anywhere on the planet,” says Julian Stubbs, Founder and CEO at UP.

Photo: Julian Stubbs, Founder and CEO at UP

UP also follows its own project management process for structuring client work called BASE-UP®, which was developed by Stubbs. The trademarked process stands for Brief, Audit, Strategy, Execution, & Follow-UP and not only improves transparency, but also helps systematically guide clients through each phase of the project.

Get inspired! Click here to see some of UP’s past projects

Lawrence Masle, COO and Head of Membership at UP, has his work cut out for him recruiting and managing more than 200 UP members around the world. Originally from the USA and now residing in Amsterdam, he has been with the agency since it was founded in 2011. He explains that most UP members are seasoned professionals with around twenty years of work experience. For lifestyle reasons, they want to improve their work-life balance and technology can help them to do this.

Photo: UP's creative space in London

“We thrive on flexible working and some members even work in another part of the world for half of the year,” he says. “Our model brings together a collective of very talented people. Usually, in a traditional agency, you only have the resources available to you in the location in which the office is based. In UP’s model, locally-based account directors pull the strings and create a team based on the best expertise to meet the client’s needs.”

UP prides itself on creating value-adding teams that provide its clients with more. Click here to find out what the full-service cloud-based agency can offer you.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by UP.

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Hassle-free tax preparation for Americans in Germany

If you dread filing your US expat taxes each year, you are not alone. But Greenback Expat Tax Services can prepare your taxes efficiently, accurately and at a fair and honest price with no hassle guaranteed.

Hassle-free tax preparation for Americans in Germany

Company name: Greenback Expat Tax Services

Name of Interviewee: David McKeegan, owner

What inspired you to start the company?
My wife and I are expats ourselves, and spent many frustrating years abroad trying to prepare our own taxes. Our US accountants weren’t experienced in expat taxes, the big four accounting firms were too expensive and using tax software wasn’t an option. So we decided to create the kind of company we were searching for.

What was most important to you when creating the company?
We wanted the most experienced expat CPAs and IRS Enrolled Agents so our clients would get the very best tax preparation and save the most money possible. And we were committed to flat-free pricing—what we quote is what you pay. Nothing is more frustrating than surprise fees at the end!

What was your greatest challenge?
At first, customers were really nervous about the idea of not sitting down face to face with their accountant to do their taxes. When we first started out in 2009, people weren't as comfortable with communicating virtually. But over time this challenge has become a strength; working with clients virtually means we keep our costs down (and pass those cost savings onto the client) as well as hiring the best accountants from all over the US. Now our clients are really comfortable with (and happy) to talk with their accountants via email, Skype, and phone.

What is the nicest thing a customer has said about your company?
We get a lot of wonderful compliments from our clients, but I particularly liked this review because it highlights the high level of customer service we strive to provide:  “Greenback Expat Tax Services has provided a fantastic service. From my initial contact to submitting my taxes, my accountant made the whole process painless. Best of all, this was done at an incredibly reasonable price. I am now a Greenback client for life and will happily refer any other expats to their service. Thank you Greenback!“– Tara V.

Who do you help?
We help Americans living in Germany and around the world. From employees and contractors to retirees and property investors – we help them all.

Is the process complicated?
No! It’s simple. You work one-on-one with your accountant, uploading necessary documents through our secure online portal and communicate via email, phone or Skype—it’s all very convenient for the client.

How long does it take to get a return prepared?
Returns are completed within one week of Greenback receiving all the tax documents.

What if someone is behind on their tax filings?
We can definitely help. Our accountants are highly experienced in helping Americans who get caught up on their US tax obligations. We can file back taxes, as well as help prepare the necessary returns and forms if the client chooses to enter one of the IRS amnesty programs for delinquent filers.

If I contact your company, will your staff be able to speak with me in English?
Yes. You can call our US Toll Free number at 1-888-362-5032 from 9am to 5pm EST. If you leave us a message during our off-hours we will respond to you within one business day.