Our Virtual JourneyApril 15, 2020
I hope this post finds you, your family, friends and co-workers healthy and safe.
Binary Tree is primarily a virtual company. 90% of our staff work from home or customer sites daily. The recent pandemic has fully stress tested our ability to go 100% virtual in 12 countries. The purpose of this post is to highlight how we’ve done it and continue to do it with the hope that you pick up one or two tidbits to help you on your virtual workforce journey.
How prophetic would it sound to say that we saw this trend (and now requirement), coming? Well we didn’t. We launched our “WFH” (work from home) initiative around 2001 based on 3 main tenets:
- We needed highly specialized staff and accepted skill sets of candidates over location.
- After experiencing New York City rents for the first 8+ years of corporate life, that expense is not something we wanted to increase.
- Expanding outside the US would be quicker if we didn’t have to deal with real estate.
Our virtual journey would not have paid dividends if it was not for leadership. First and foremost, and still paramount today is leadership. Our leaders at every level have a complete handle on their team’s goals and productivity. More importantly is morale and engagement which we measure quarterly. In my honest opinion, virtual does not work to its full potential without capable leadership at every level with motivated and engaged staff.
Next is our use of technology. Systems and tools have evolved over 25+ years in business and so have ours. Currently, we take full advantage of Microsoft Office 365, specifically Teams, and our very own virtual e-Learning solution.
Lastly is work-life balance. I’ve heard from some old school execs (outside of Binary Tree) that they view this as staff having it too easy. I beg to differ as the workload here at Binary Tree from individual to teams to departments is very intense. Work-life balance can be achieved in highly productive environments. Based on continuous internal employee surveys this is sighted as a huge benefit that is greatly appreciated. We use Gallup Q12 for internal employee surveys.
Additional key factors to keep in mind:
- Hire folks who either have or are committed to working remotely. We have had our fair share of new hires that were unable to adjust to being outside of an office environment.
- Encourage your leaders to say, “How are you doing?”, as often as they say, “Where are we on project XYZ?”
- Replicate as much virtual water cooler as possible at many levels. We use Microsoft Yammer as well as All Hands video calls (using Teams). This is incredibly important, especially during these challenging times, and should be practiced regularly. If the group doesn’t want to shoot the hay, they may not dig in to meet the next deadline.
- Provide your teams with the ability to give virtual thanks and kudos to each other with every post being fully visible to the rest of the department or even the company (depending on size). We use an application called Bonusly.com.
In summary, with the correct mix of leadership, technology and policies you can definitely transform your company, organization, department or group into a highly productive and job satisfied virtual team.
I won’t opine on leadership in this post, but Binary Tree CAN help with technology. Check out this white paper our team wrote on the topic, and please let us know how we can help.