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5 Tips to Managing in a Virtual Environment

August 16, 2017, by Corina Sibley | Work Environment and Policies

Last blog I wrote about the advantages of a virtual company.  That’s well and good, you said to yourself, but how do we manage in that environment?  Here are our top 5 tips for successfully managing in a virtual company.

1. Hire for Fit

Not everyone we have hired has fit our corporate culture.  Some had a hard time transitioning to a virtual office environment.  We’ve learned from those experiences and now ensure that a large part of our interviewing and vetting process includes the “fit” aspect.  We get many referrals from our associates from candidates that are interested in joining our organization.  If they are making a transition out of the corporate work world we offer them the opportunity to chat with one of our associates even before any interviews take place so they can better understand how we operate and what they need to know about a virtual work environment.  It is important they understand the major differences and what kind of a paradigm shift it requires. 

2.  Formal orientation

We provide new associates with formal training on our technology platforms such as our timesheet system, collaboration tools, etc.  We also provide them with the history of HR à la carte, why we started the business, what our values are, etc.  Training on ethics in the consulting world rounds out our orientation program.  As we grow we continually add to our program, and also ask our associates for feedback on their initial integration and what we can improve upon.

3.  Communication is Key

Whether it’s a weekly check-in call, team call or just picking up the phone and chatting, we need to continually communicate.  Email and phone remain the tools of choice.  We are also venturing into the world of Yammer and are continually reassessing our technology platforms to see what will work best as we grow and evolve.

4.  Feedback is Real-Time in the Moment

We don’t believe in letting things fester.  Coaching in the moment and providing effective feedback is especially important when your associates are self-managed to a large extent. We also believe in lots of positive feedback.  As we have done this from the very beginning we have created a culture of recognition; our associates also give each other positive feedback for a job well done.  It has helped us build a strong sense of belonging, ownership and doing things for the good of the team and the company.   We love it when we see associates treating HR à la carte like it’s their own company and coming up with ideas to make things simpler, faster and more efficient.

5.  Create occasions to get together in person

We have an annual in-person get together that we host for all associates.  It involves a lunch, the occasional presentation, updates on the company and what’s coming down the pipeline, as well as the opportunity to get to know each other better and network with the colleagues we work with all year over the phone, email and SharePoint.  Everyone looks forward to it and it’s something we hope to do more often. 

Even after all this time as a virtual company we are still learning new methods and technologies to keep and stay connected.  So far, our experiment has been successful.  With the creativity, enthusiasm and willingness to try new things we have on our team, we will continue to experiment and grow.

Other Articles of Interest

The Advantages of Going Virtual

What Motivates Employees in a Telecommuting Environment

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