By Leslie Hughes, California Business Journal
You’re staring at your closet, eyes half open and still waking up, trying to figure out what to wear to the office that day. You’re wishing you had gone to sleep earlier the night before and are wondering how you are going to muster up the energy to drive to the office and sit in your uncomfortable desk for the next eight hours.
The last thing you really want to be thinking about right now is whether the outfit you’re holding in your hands is too casual.
Enjoying a giant cup of coffee in your pajamas sounds much better.
Well, when you’re an employee of the innovative and progressive insurance agency, Scottish American, your mornings will align much more closely with what you want to be doing.
Established in 2009 by Paul Thomson, ScotAm, as it is referred to, has been redefining corporate culture by morphing it from a stuffy, structured atmosphere and schedule to a place free of boundaries and hierarchies. The company prides itself on the fact that there are no bosses and that it prefers to “operate as a network.”
And one of the greatest parts about this company that sets it apart from others of its kind is that employees have the freedom to work remotely. In its own words, “if you get your work done, it doesn’t matter where you are.”
This concept is every employee’s dream.
We chatted with two current Scottish American employees, Maureen Reinhold-Fabrizio and Alexandra Cullen, to get a deeper look into the benefits of working for this forward-thinking company and the reasons behind what has kept these two women at this company for so long.
Reinhold-Fabrizio has worked her way up to her current position of Chief of Staff over the last 17 years. She’s been with Scottish American since Day 1, and prior to that, was with the company that ScotAm acquired, Buckingham Badler. Reinhold-Fabrizio remained with the company throughout the acquisition because she saw “when Paul came in, he had a different vision of how the company should be run.”
Cullen is a producer for ScotAm and has been with the company for 4 ½ years. She was previously with another insurance company, but was convinced to come over and join the company by her former boss.
Great for mothers and families
Both Reinhold-Fabrizio and Cullen are mothers of young children and both note that the flexibility that ScotAm provides them and their children has been life-changing.
“I can take the day and work from home as well as wear jeans and a t-shirt to work,” Reinhold-Fabrizio says.
“I can wear pajamas because I work from home,” Cullen adds.
They both noted the company’s four-month maternity leave proved to be a ‘massive’ added bonus.
“I talked to Maureen before I was going to take maternity leave and told her ‘I’m scared of falling behind with work and all of that stuff.’ Maureen said ‘You’ll be so grateful’ — and she was right,” Cullen adds.
Family is something that the company wants employees to prioritize.
“ScotAm has always been proud of its philosophy of allowing employees to work wherever you want to and need to,” Cullen says. “People can literally pick up their laptops and visit family in Mexico or Spain or France and have family time away from their desks. They can still be in touch with their assistants. You can still do your job and be wherever you’d like.”
Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? Not having to take time off of work, but still being able to enjoy family and travel? A classic win-win situation. When you are your own boss — as employees as Scottish American are — you take on more responsibility.
Yet there are great benefits that come along with that.
“From my perspective,” Cullen says, “it’s great because it makes you responsible for yourself. For me, personally, I’m responsible for my book of business. I set my own monthly goals. I’m the only one to blame if I don’t meet them.”
Some companies fear opening up this amount of responsibility to their employees, but not ScotAm. The trust it places in employees creates a system of trust and success that keeps the wheel spinning in a positive and upward direction.
Starting with a single acquisition in 2011, Scottish American is now processing over $300,000,000 million in premium annually with 22 offices. Over the last four years, its revenue base has grown at a compounded growth rate of in excess of 21% per year.
Also, of its 174 employees, more than 50% are women.
Behind Scottish American’s Culture
Why is company culture is such a focal point for ScotAm?
Reinhold-Fabrizio shares her thoughts: “Everyone has left their job because of either money or management. Everyone here is very well paid. You can be well paid somewhere else, but you may hate your bosses.”
At Scottish American, there are no bosses per se, and you get to choose your work environment and the people that you surround yourself with.
“You build your teams, you build your personalities,” Reinhold-Fabrizio adds. “You want people on your team that actually want to be there. That’s a big part of it. Have fun! Put a slide in your office or a TV and watch games in the middle of the day. There are no rules. There is work and fun.”
Knocking down the cubicles in your typical office and replacing them with some slides sounds like a great idea. It is concepts such as this that has led to the creation of Scottish American’s motto: “Fun, fast and loyal.”
So how does a company with over 180 employees working from different places all over the country keep everything together? First of all, the entire company is Google-based and uses the many features of Google to keep in contact, such as GChat. However, it is its in-house-built platform that really makes the remote structure of Scottish American possible. The platform can be accessed anytime anywhere and is something that is constantly being improved. It was launched towards the end of 2013 and has been getting better and better every year.
In addition, the team works to stay connected. “We have all built a really good relationship,” Reinhold-Fabrizio says. “Even though we are a large group, we stay really well connected.”
This includes bi-monthly conference calls that everyone partakes in as well as more celebratory things such as family parties. These parties are a favorite of Cullen’s. “Everyone brings their kids and everybody becomes friends,” she says.
And the company does not stop setting its sights higher and higher. As Chief of Staff, Reinhold-Fabrizio sees great things for the future of Scottish American.
“I foresee it on a bigger scale than it is now. Getting more amazing people to come in and lead teams and bring their own personality and bring something new to the company.”
Reinhold-Fabrizio shares her outlook that every new person that joins the company “brings something new that opens our eyes to a new light.” It may be something as silly as “starting a meme thread throughout the entire company,” but regardless of what it is, it is something that will continue to make the company a place where people love to work.
Says Reinhold-Fabrizio, “Everyone has a personality and they shine through.”
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