The Virtues of Virtual Vary

Early 1990’s, it was a big snowstorm. In my cul de sac, a dozen townhouses were isolated. No business was conducted. Even those with computers at home were hampered by broadband and Internet limitations. So we had a three-day party. Chili and beer. Pot roast and wine. Afternoon poker.

Fast forward to 2003 in Young & Associates’ expansive offices. It was an unusual morning. Two of the staff, unbeknownst to the other, announced they were moving from the area. To keep a successful team with a remarkable success record together, we decided to “go virtual”.

The “go” needed a lot of planning as our technology and work habits were geared to brick and mortar. An in-house committee reviewed and tested options to seamlessly connect remote offices, enhance intra- and inter- communication and ensure security.

Three years later, others moved and virtual became our way of life, both professionally and personally.  Although we still are exploring, here are some of the lessons we learned:

Take baby steps
– If you have employees who request working at home or you want to explore virtual options, do a test. Measure results.

Upgrade your technology for mobility
– Even if you don’t go virtual, today’s world requires the best in wireless and mobile capabilities for anyplace-anytime work environments.

Deal with the human issues –
Working in pajamas in a corner of your bedroom is not going to make it. Feeling isolated, yes, it is real. To ensure a team spirit we meet bi-annually.

Review, challenge & change
– What is and isn’t working? Formally review personal and professional issues. Something as simple as staff in different time zones impacts office hours. Make adjustments when needed.

I would like to hear your stories about working virtually, good and bad. And, do I miss the snow parties, you bet.

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