Virtual Offices – yes or no?
One of the very best parts of working at LiquidPlanner is having the kind of product where you often get to know your customers on a more personal level. When I worked at Expedia, this was never the case; it was just a transaction for the most part.
Yesterday a really cool customer asked me this question:
This is kind of an off-topic question but I was thinking you may have some insight because of your business. We are a go with Liquid Planner so it will NOT affect our use one way or the other. I’m wondering if you have any insight as to the viability of a “virtual” or semi-virtual organization versus a traditional brick and mortar type organization. By virtual I mean, flexible office space in many locations (like using Regus) verus one centralized physical location or office. We are having internal discussions about whether or not to form some type of flexible structure for our next deal and I’m hoping to get some feedback. If you have experience with this any direction would be appreciated. If not, no biggie!
Liz who looked over shoulder at my reply was adamant that I share my response, so here it is.
I do have a perspective on this, thanks for asking.
Proximity and ease of communication has been shown to have significant positive impacts on productivity (related post). If you think about it, all teams are part virtual anyway because they don’t live together. People work different hours and different days, they work on things in different order, go out to lunch at different times etc. Flex time is the price we pay for people accepting a round-the-clock type of white collar work style.
The great thing about a tool like LP is that it replaces the whiteboards, post-it notes, and filing cabinets of the physical office allowing people to have access to the company’s institutional knowledge anytime, anywhere. Even better, work structure and management priorities are always clear and available. LP also incents people to queue up work for more efficient processing and interrupt management.
This kind of electronic office is good no matter where you fall on the spectrum of traditional office or virtual office. The optimal place on that spectrum, I believe, is a function of leadership and culture and I think most teams would benefit from being in the middle. LP for example has a middle structure. Our culture is that we don’t schedule any meeting on Fridays because people like to skip the commute, focus on tasks, and knock off a little early that day. Tue & Thursday are “all in days“ because of our Triage meetings where we review priorities together. On the other days people do what suits them. Everyone has a desk, sometimes they us it, sometimes they don’t. Our culture is high performance and we track our time and there is complete transparency via LP so we know our productivity is very high.
An example of our ability to work virtually – Monday night we shipped a major site upgrade of LiquidPlanner and the whole company participated and we did it all from different locations using email and LP.
I’m quite curious about how many other teams are experimenting with virtual offices and ultra flex time. Use that reply feature down yonder and let us know what you think about it.