As technology continues to shrink the world we live in, more and more companies are choosing to invest in remote workforces. For those companies where it isn’t an absolute necessity to have every employee work at HQ, the draw of being able to hire the most talented employees in the world, regardless of where they live, is very strong.
Managing a company that has the majority of it’s employees working from home offices from LA to NYC has allowed us to hire the highest level of talent available. Traditionally, this would not be an option for a company like ours, given our local geography is some what limiting and most top talent isn’t too interested in picking up and moving their family across the country. However, with all the good that has come out of running a geographically distributed company, it has not been without some very real challenges.
So, now that you have decided to break down the physical boundaries that have traditionally defined your business and have hired the top players in your industry, how do you keep them happy, engaged, and innovating?
When I first started working out of my home office, the first question everyone would asked me was “isn’t it lonely working all by yourself?” Of course I had an entire team of talented people I was working with but it was a very valid question. When we are working in a traditional office setting, we take it for granted that we can bond with our colleagues while going out to lunch, doing the office pop in, or through small talk in the break room. Once your workforce goes remote, you don’t have a physical building to help cultivate relationships among your employees.
One of the first things we realized is that we needed to figure out a way to create a virtual office that would allow our employees to interact with each other, to share stories, to chit chat, to just be human. With out that, employees are out on an island which results in low morale and little to no collaboration. It’s a losing game.
As many of us have never met face-to-face, we began interviewing everyone in the company — thank you Corey Spencer. We quickly compiled a library of funny and insightful video clips that were available for the entire company to watch on our company video portal. Now, the next time Eric got an email from Stewart, he had a much better idea who Stewart was, as he was no longer just a name behind an email address.
This project has helped create new connections between our employees, has improved employee morale, and has increased collaboration across the company. It’s much easier to reach out and collaborate with someone when you know a little something about them, a little tid bit of information you can use to find some common ground. I love this project and think it is a must for any company managing remote teams.
In this series of posts, I’m going to share with you my experiences and what I have learned about what has worked and what hasn’t worked, starting with projects we have put in place to help our employees get to know each other better and to improve overall communication.