Working (Efficiently) From Home With The ASTRO Method

When Yahoo! effectively eliminated the ability of its employees to work remotely back in 2013, some announced that this bellwether, big company move to bring its flock under one roof marked the decline of the telecommunting fad. Yet in many industries today, and especially in the tech industry, virtual employment is seeing a steady uptick.

According to Forbes Magazine in early 2014, as many as 30% of all employees currently telecommute at least one day per week. The New York Times backed this up in an article published in March 2014, adding that from 2005 to 2012 the number of telecommuters rose 79%.

The same article in the New York Times describes an experiment performed by Stanford University and one of the largest travel agencies in China, Ctrip. Their experiment included about 250 employees who volunteered. Half were selected to work from home and the rest remained working from the office. Here’s what they found…

At the end of the experiment, employers found that the home-based employees worked more than office workers — 9.5 percent longer — and were 13 percent more productive. They also were judged to be happier, as quitting rates were cut in half.

With the increasing availability and decreasing cost of tools used to communicate and collaborate, having all employees in the same location is not always necessary or even feasible. With distributed companies becoming more and more mainstream, telecommuting continues its growth as part of the norm, not the exception.

Here at Edge, a virtual office space is already part of our day-to-day landscape. Nationwide, meanwhile, telecommuting and greater flexibility in the work day is fast becoming one of the most attractive perks a business can offer current and prospective employees.

However, demystifying and integrating a contemporary business model, who some still herald as wave of the future can be daunting. I mean, we’re not living in the world of the Jetsons yet, right?

The following tips show the ways in which a virtual model can thrive and some of the common pitfalls that can undermine the process. And, since I’ve got you thinking about the Jetsons now, all you have to remember is their dog: ASTRO.

The ASTRO Method

A: Accept that employees don’t have to be watched to be productive. This is big. It goes against the grain and the traditional office model. In a virtual office, measures of productivity are based on the quality and value of work produced, not on how it is produced. It is important to note that not watching does not equal not communicating. Never assume that telecommuters know what is going on. Daily communication is crucial to making everyone feel connected. A feeling of isolation is an ongoing threat to the success of a telecommuting workforce.

S: Celebrate the SAVINGS! (Okay, I know that is technically a C, but it sounds like an S and is followed by SAVINGS, so we’ll count it). When workers telecommute, the “storefront” office space can be smaller, which can mean big savings for a business. Additionally, there are savings in utilities, janitorial costs, furniture, a water cooler, birthday cakes and more. Maybe that savings could be turned in to additional staff instead, increasing productivity.

T: Technology is key. Use all of the tools in your productivity toolbox. The reliability of the internet makes document exchange and conferencing simple. Desktop to mobile apps such as Skype can keep associates connected from a home office, an in-person meeting with a client, or on the road. Admit it – you already read all of your email from your phone. Accessibility is no longer a top concern in a telecommuting environment.

R: Recruiting the right people is paramount. Not everyone is efficient from a home office, and some people are better communicators face-to-face. Sample some written communication, talk to a potential recruit at length on the phone or over Skype, ask about challenges to productivity in their personal office environment, and be upfront about expectations.

O: Organization is elemental. For the virtual model to succeed there has to be structure at the core level. Make sure employees have a focus, understand the company-wide goals and have access to the policies that will impact them. Have guidelines established, or you risk a short-lived foray into the telecommuting model and problems with employee retention. Keep expectations clear and keep management available.

Dan & Chris Working Remotely from Torque
Edgers Dan & Chris work remotely from one of our favorite coffee haunts north of the Columbia: Torque Coffee in Vancouver, WA.

“Put people in the environment they are most productive with the tools they need and they will work wonders”. – David Walsh, Mozilla

Having a distributed workforce, whether located in close proximity or spread across a large region, can offer significant benefits to both employer and employee. Lower operating costs can give the business quicker expansion possibilities.

The offer of telecommuting leads to a more extensive hiring pool, which can result in attracting top talent in the industry. Employees who have the flexibility and comfort of working from a home office are often more satisfied with their job, as we saw in the Stanford/Ctrip experiment, which leads to lower turnover and less expense for training. Fear of a telecommuting model is no longer an excuse to explore its possibilities.

So, next time you have your team meeting at your own Spacely Sprockets, weigh the pros and cons of telecommuting and see what your employees think. Offering a virtual workspace could just be the motivator your workforce has been waiting for.


Edge Multimedia is a full service digital marketing agency with virtual offices in Portland, Oregon & Vancouver, Washington. We like to think that we are at least 13% happier. We extend the marketing capabilities of our clients in the Portland Metro Area and throughout the United States. How can we help you?

Graphics & Photo by Zack Stack

Four Marketing Lessons Extracted From One Of My Favorite Places: The Coffee Shop

Everyone Loves Coffee

I don’t know about you, but I can stop in a coffee shop around town at just about any time of the day and see the majority of tables filled with customers from many walks of life. Twenty something’s with cappuccinos in hand, staring at their laptops; soccer moms in gym clothes, catching up on their Facebook and soy lattes; dapper business types conversing over the drink du jour – they’re all in the mix.

Then there is the constant flow of people, in and out, seemingly with only one thing in common: they all love that coffee shop.

Here is where my marketing mind kicks in and I think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if every business could grab, hold on to, and engage with their customers like a coffee shop does?” And, “How can one place capture such a diverse group of people?”

No matter what business you’re in, you’re seeking to court and engage customers. So with curious eyes and caffeine in my veins, here are four observations I brewed up that can help you win and retain customers.

ONE. Don’t Stop At Just One Solution

Good coffee is clearly the primary draw for a coffee shop customer, but the best coffee shops go beyond just handing you some joe. They provide a comfortable space and free WiFi. A place where people can sit down, relax, talk, work, etc.

The patron’s needs often expand over time and the astute proprietor accommodates and innovates by providing tables, chairs, internet, a comfortable climate and a stylish atmosphere. Their solution isn’t just caffeine – it’s facilitating community.

There are many customer needs and if your business can provide more than one relevant solution to your customer you’ll be more likely to increase your opportunity for growth with that customer. Providing multiple solutions in one place and anticipating a variety of different needs encourages your customers to stick around. It also communicates that you understand their range of needs/wants and respect their time.

The business professionals will need a table for multiple people to converse and take notes. The hurried commuter will need fast moving lines and quick, friendly service. The aspiring novelist will need a window to stare out of and a comfy seat. Think about your business and what solutions you provide. Take a minute and list out the solutions your business offers. Is there room to add more relevant solutions for your customers?

BE BOLD. Ask your customers what other pain points you may be able to ease for them.

TWO. Be Relevant

Let’s face it, things are moving quickly. There’s always room for growth and advancement. Don’t lament for the way things use to be, embrace new ideas, and innovation. An advancing business moves with the needs of its customers without giving up relinquishing the principles of the company.

Coffee shops are great when it comes to change and relevancy. There’s always a special “drink of the day”, which gives the customer information about what beverages are available seasonally. It also lets the shop offer something new while they gather data on what new drinks are trending and might be worth adding to the permanent menu. Testing new products/services drives innovation and can both reveal the unexpected and underscore which of your staple offerings keep your customers coming back for more.

At some point lattes went from regular to vanilla to bourbon horchata with sea salt caramel whip. It’s unlikely that these ideas were simply pulled out of a hat and are most certainly a product of research and market testing. Both driven by “healthy” competition.

THREE. Make It Personal

Peoples’ taste in coffee are wide ranging. Some like it extra hot, or with sweetener or disguised as a milkshake with almost zero coffee-like attributes altogether. Coffee shops truly make an effort to cater to personal tastes. It doesn’t even need to involve actually changing their product. For instance, I like it when the person making my drink asks if I would like room for cream. I don’t drink coffee with cream, but I like that they ask.

Customization according to interests in local markets is a way to create brand and customer loyalty and increase your sales. The best baris­tas and cashiers rec­og­nize reg­u­lars and recall and accommodate for their tastes – creating a strong positive connection between the customer and service provider.

Why would I risk going to the café down the street and having to explain my weird preferences when my barista knows exactly how I like my triple-shot Americano with salted goat’s milk foam, gingerbread whip and just a hint of drinking vinegars for balance. No judgement.

When customers are loyal to your brand – you can also flip this around and say when your brand is loyal to its customer – an environment more conducive to upselling is created. Knowing your customer and solidifying a rapport with them uniquely positions your business to identify and provide additional solutions. It also makes them more likely to say yes, because you took the time to build a relationship.

FOUR. Have Fun and Lose The Apathy

My favorite coffee shops are brimming with life and a diverse range of people and conversations. You can feel the vibrant exchange of ideas resonating off the walls. In short, they are fun, energizing places to be. They help me shake off whatever doldrums I may have entered with and what’s more…give apathy the dodge.

Whatever you may be selling, nothing kills the mood like apathy. Create an environment that is attractive and fun and fill it with folks who love what they do. Both apathy and genuine passion are infectious. You can tell almost from the moment you enter a place whether or not your expectations are going to be met or not. Your customers are surmising the same about your business with each interaction.

Get The Right Blend

When examined closely, you’ll find that coffee shops aren’t really doing anything special. They are just offering a customer experience that blends the right amount of solutions, relevance, personal care and fun.

Perhaps your business might not offer something as universally beloved as the blessed bean and a cozy place to sit, but these observations can be applied to your business to make your customer’s experience that much better.

Do you need help developing your brand and extending your marketing capabilities with a well-balanced blend of solutions, insights, accountability and fun? It’s gotta be fun, right? We’d love to help you get there.


Sources Cited

Feature Image Credit: Zack Stack

Background Image Credit: David Young via Compfight

3 Design Principles That Are Guaranteed To Improve Your Art

3 Rock Solid Design Principles
You have only a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention. Make them count with these three rock solid design principles.

The average time a commuter or passenger has to read and process your billboard is only six seconds. Within that ultra-brief window of opportunity you creative must be able to get your message across and your brand noticed. This concept holds true for many other forms of art, especially in advertising where your ad creative can easily get lost amidst the noise.

Whether you’re planning on creating directional signs for new construction, or need a banner to be strung across a building, a grasp of design principles will help you achieve the goal of reaching your customers in a timely fashion. I will mention three below that I use on a day-to-day basis, and are guaranteed to improve your company’s creative.

1) Hierarchy

3 Design Principles: Hierarchy

The first design principle, and most important, is referred to as Hierarchy. Although it can be seen almost everywhere, many don’t recognize the important role it plays in structuring good designs. Hierarchy is the organization of different design elements ranked one above the other in order of the importance. As the designer, you can bring attention to certain elements using size, color or even contrasting shapes. The possibilities are endless, and this principle is a powerful tool for designers to be able to “guide” the customer’s eye through the piece effectively and efficiently by organizing different elements.

2) Balance

3 Design Principles: Balance

Another valuable principle of design is called Balance. Balance refers to the visual weight of an image, and can relate to symmetry, asymmetry or radial balance. Whether you want your piece to be symmetrical, or create a sense of motion through asymmetry…you need to be able to place the elements in way that creates an optical equilibrium. Balance is vital to any piece, and can be achieved through color, shape, line and size.

3) Scale

3 Design Principles: Scale

The last principle that is vital to your art piece is Scale. When scale is used in a design, it can greatly influence the meaning of your work. It is the dimensional element that can be defined by other elements relative to the art, or in relation to humans. If you want to show off a new product of yours, why not make it larger than life so people can walk around what would normally be the size of a pencil? Whenever you introduce scale into a piece it will be sure to grasp the attention of its viewers.


If you keep these three design principles in mind when creating your next piece, you will be sure to turn heads. Some principles are more subtle than others, but once you learn and understand them, it will change the way you convey your message. Remember, you only have a precious few seconds to capture the attention your brand needs from that billboard…so why not apply the same rule to a poster, flyer, banner or even a life-size promo item so you don’t lose those potential new customers and that valuable brand awareness opportunity?

What Is The Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?

Advice. We’ve been bombarded with it since childhood: don’t put all of your eggs in one basket; a penny saved is a penny earned; don’t wear white shoes after Labor Day; don’t trust anyone wearing a clown wig.

While kind of silly now, all of these tips were probably helpful at one time or another. They stick in your head like a permanent rule book to flip through when making decisions. (In fact, I never wear white shoes, just to be safe.) But, don’t discount it entirely. Advice can be a very powerful tool in your professional tool belt.

Since most advice is largely unsolicited, it can be difficult to discern which tips are useful and which are just more white noise. But, when it comes to running a successful business or even starting a new career, advice can be essential in getting through obstacles and overcoming hurdles that come up unexpectedly. When presented with a challenge, think about things that other successful people do. What wisdom would they impart at a time like this?

Possibly the most important aspect about getting advice is to seek out guidance before you are stuck. Find successful people in your field and take them to lunch. Ask a trusted colleague to be your mentor. And, most importantly, ignore advice from sources that aren’t looking out for your best interests. You never know, you might find the motivation to finish that new project or reach an important goal.

So, what is the best advice you’ve ever received?


Several successful leaders in business share their most memorable tips:

“The one option in life that is almost always the wrong option is walking away and choosing not to be in the game” – John Donahoe, CEO and president of eBay (advice from Bill Clinton)

“You should never do something for the approval of someone else, and you must be both your own biggest supporter and worst critic”-Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation (advice from her first grade teacher)

“Don’t make me change how I do things unless it’s meaningfully better” – David Marcus, President of PayPal (advice from one of his first clients)

“Explore the world. The further you get from what is familiar to you the more you’ll learn” – Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International

“The harder you try, the luckier you get” – Rachel Schall Thomas, President of (advice from her Dad)


Leave a note below with any words of wisdom that you’ve picked up along the way.

Design Source File Management: 5 Simple Time and Budget Saving Tips

Proper Digital File Management

Organized and Well-Documented Source Files: The Underrated Money Saver

There are unspoken rules when it comes to creating, sharing and delivering source files. These rules, when correctly adhered to, could save your design team hours of head-scratching, and forego many a game of Content Layer Hide and Seek. Clarity is the key when it comes to shared design resources, because your team members don’t carry around a crystal ball and they can’t read your mind, especially when you’re on your off-the-grid vacay and client requests edits to their 300+ layer Illustrator file!

You may be asking yourself “What are these ‘Source Files’ Matt is talking about?”

Source files can come in many different forms, but this article will focus mainly on Adobe Illustrator (.ai) and Photoshop Documents (.psd). These two file formats are widely used when creating artwork, and are usually the master files to company logos, print collateral, posters, etc. But, while this article will focus mainly on these two file types, these rules can also serve as a guideline for almost anything you share. If you follow and understand the basic rules below you will save you and your design team a future headache and more than a few bucks in the process.

Ignore these rules and your designer may end up like this:

Crying Designer
Avoid unsightly pool of tears stains on your carpet with proper digital file management.

1) Name Your File Accordingly

Naming your file accordingly is the most important rule and your biggest time saver. If you share multiple files with your agency or co-worker make sure the file’s name is relevant to its content. Not doing this will result in cryptically names files and office wide confusion.

It’s also a good idea to place a version number of the file in its name. Something such as “CompanyName_ColorLogo_Version_1” would be a great habit to get into. Do not give in to the temptation of just placing the word “Final” at the end of a filename when the project is approved. We all know there will ALWAYS (always) be a revision of some sort. Just try naming the file exactly what it is and when it was created, that way if you ever need to revise this file you can make a copy and change the creation date.

2) Name Your Layers

As boring and obvious as this rule may sound, it seems to be the rule that people most often to ignore. It’s easy to see why – you’re in a creative mindset, you’re on a roll, in a groove, in the zone and little things like naming layers fall by the wayside. But there is nothing worse than opening a file and being met with 30 different layers all that are named, “Layer 1 copy copy copy”. This not only makes me shed a tear, but will cost real time trying to research and dissect how the file is put together and what layers contain the content needed.

I can’t name my layers now. I’m in the zone, man!
– Someone Eager to Eat Their Own Words

3) Group and Organize Layers

If your file has multiple layers and could be grouped, take the extra time to do so. It not only makes your company look more professional with the way your files are setup, but will definitely shave time off your budget. Just look at the project and separate the layers based on location, such as “Header” or “Main Image” and continue until you can’t simplify any more.

4) Collect Unused Styles and Images

After a design is approved, it’s always good practice to go through and delete the layers that were never used in order to clean it up. Leaving these unused styles and images adds unnecessary clutter to your files. If you feel like the unused layers or graphics could come into play in the future, by all means just place them in their own switched-off layer group.

5) Make Everything Easy to Find

Think of your source files as a stack of papers, how would you organize that? One of the most intuitive ways to do it is to color-code the different sections. This same idea can be utilized in most programs where you can specify a color to each layer. That way, when you look at your huge stack of layers (papers) you can pinpoint the content based on color.

All of these rules may seem like a pain but if the source files are created with these rules in mind, it can save you money in the long run. Not only will it save you money, but it will create better relationships with whom you share your files. Don’t be the person that the people you collaborate with have nightmares about. Integrate these five digital file management rules into your workflow and your files will be a time-saving joy to work and collaborate on.

2013: A Year in the Life of Edge

Edge Denim Day
Go Blue: The Edge Team dons the denim duds in October in support of Denim Day and to raise funds to help the fight against breast cancer.

2013 was a big year for Edge! As we greet the New Year and look forward to great things ahead, we wanted to take a moment to look back on the past year at some of our fondest memories and big moments.

Bigger and Better

In 2013 we almost doubled the size of our workforce at Edge, going from 7 to 13 team members over the course of the year. Meet the newest members of our crew:

2013 New Edge Team Members Numbered

1) Christine, Business Manager 2) Chris, Creative & Production Intern 3) Molly, Marketing Coordinator 4) Candice, Account Manager 5) Gavin, Web Developer 6) Matt, Art & Production Manager

Edge Gets a Shiny New Look

Edge New Website Collage

We spruced up the Edge website with a sleek new, content-forward design and responsive layout and updated our company portfolio to highlight the wide variety of work that we pride ourselves in.

Share Vancouver’s Annual Gala Fundraiser

The Edge Team at the 2013 Share Vancouver Gala

Edge created a special video that aired at Share’s Casino Royale fundraising event, helping to open pocketbooks and raise funds to support Share’s service to the hungry and homeless. Edge was also a platinum sponsor, so the whole team was able to make an appearance and enjoy a fun night for a cause. The successful event raised over $164,500!

Speedy and Sleek Websites to the Rescue

HREM Website Redesign

Established in 2004 and successful with minimal effort, the Hotel, Restaurant and Event Management Program began to fail and hit a crisis point. With zero enrollments and cancelled class starts, they had decided to close their doors. We stepped up with a plan to save the program and built a new, standalone website within a tight 2-week deadline. The sleek, scalable site coupled with a digital advertising campaign grew the school from zero to 23 enrollments in just 4 months, re-establishing the program into growth mode once again.

Award-Winning Work

Renaissance Homes - Mobile App and Filming

We felt proud when Edge client Renaissance Homes took home the awards for Best App and Best Video Series at the 2013 Home Builders Association of Metro Portland Excellence Awards. Both the mobile app and video series were developed from start to finish by Edge.

Portland Rescue Mission’s Annual Telethon Fundraiser

2013 Portland Rescue Mission Telethon - Feature Image

For the past six years, our Edge team has helped our client Portland Rescue Mission raise funds through telethons. This year’s telethon exceeded our goal of raising 23,000 meals to help hungry men, women, and children in the greater Portland area.

Creative Marketing Draws a Crowd

Street League Portland Photos - Courtesy of SLS
Matt Teske and Rob Dyrdek at SLS Portland

One of the exciting projects we worked on in 2013 was the Street League Skateboarding World Tour – Portland Stop. In addition to opening up live coverage opportunities and advertising for the event on local radio stations and on ESPN, Edge handled creative, out of the box non-traditional marketing – leading to a spectacular event that took place before an estimated crowd of 7,000. The client was very pleased with the turnout and shared that it was one of the fullest arenas they’ve had. On top of that, Edge staff were able to attend the event and a dream of Matt’s (our Art & Production Manager) was realized – hanging out in person with reality TV star Rob Dyrdek, founder of Street League Skateboarding.

We’ve had a great year and we hope you have too. Thanks for being a part of our lives and sharing our moments with us. We look forward to another year of adventures in 2014!

SLS Portland Photos Courtesy of Street League Skateboarding and Matt Teske.

Turning Lead into Gold: The Alchemy of Crisis Communication

Crisis Management Alchemy - Full Image

The Crisis

We’ve all dealt with it: The rogue tweet, the customer service meltdown, the accidental reply all, the billboard with the double entendre, the day your one defective product gets sent to the loudest guy on the internet.

We usually call it “a crisis”.  I can think of nothing that puts the reputation of a brand and the team behind it to the test more than a crisis.  Folks get emotional, people demand answers, customers cancel orders, and everyone starts pointing fingers.  It’s your very own big lead brick: heavy and poisonous.

It’s a Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood!

Few of us will ever be able to venture down to a private wine cellar, change the channel on your 100 inch television, or grab a beverage from your custom-made bar in the game room. Even though we don’t have these luxuries, it doesn’t mean that we can’t dream, or even take home a few ideas to apply to our own dwellings. From a private putting green to unique takes on interior design, there’s certainly no shortage of inspiration to be found along this year’s Street of Dreams. It may not be the dyed vintage wood used in that multi-million dollar house you just toured, but you could always let the creative juices flow and create an alternative on a budget.

Renaissance Homes - Street of Dreams Interior

From walking down The Street of Dreams and gazing into each house as if you own it, to discovering more about the houses in accompanying Street of Dreams magazine…this is definitely a not-to-be-missed event. The magazine is filled with information on the houses, and a plethora of ads that coexist with the event. Upon opening the magazine, you will notice an ad created by our ad agency for our client Renaissance Homes.

Edge has been privileged to design the inside front cover for two consecutive years for Renaissance Homes, and has met the mark every time. It’s not just a magazine ad to Edge, but it’s about matching the branding and quality of the event to the design. The quality and craftsmanship spent on each house needs to be reflected within the design.

We urge you to go take a walk down the Street of Dreams and let your mind roam. And while there, don’t forget to take a look at Edge’s contribution within the pages of this year’s Street of Dreams magazine.

Renaissance Homes - Street of Dreams Exterior