Gini Dietrich

Pros and Cons of a Virtual Office

By: Gini Dietrich | October 15, 2012 | 
195

One year ago, we made a strange, but important, business decision.

We decided to go completely virtual, giving people the opportunity to work from home, save on commute time, and be more productive with little to no daily interruptions.

At the time, I said we’d revisit it in 10 months to see if, at the year mark, we should go back to having an office.

When we discussed during a staff meeting a couple of weeks ago, the answer was a resounding no.

How it Works

At the time, there were only two of us in Chicago, with other members of the team spread across the country. And I was spending a good three days a week out of the office. So it wasn’t a big deal.

But during the past year, we’ve not only added new team members from other states and Canada, we’ve added some from Chicago. And everyone works from home.

For the people in Chicago, I do in-person one-to-one meetings with each of them on Mondays. I do the others by phone or Skype, depending on the person’s preference.

Then, on Tuesdays, we do an all-staff meeting where we have the chance to discuss client work, upcoming projects, and business results. We’ve tossed around the idea of having the people in Chicago in one room while those not here join us via Google Hangouts.

I suspect, though, people enjoy not having to get ready for an in-person meeting or making a commute to one location in favor of chatting on the phone.

Pros and Cons

I remember a couple of years ago, a very well-respected business leader in my Vistage group said to me, “I don’t think you like managing people. It goes against your personality. You should find a way to run a business where you don’t have to do that anymore.”

He was right. I’m naturally an introvert, which is a hard personality for a business leader. I don’t like to be interrupted. I like my routine. And the HR issues that arise from politics in the office drive me absolutely insane.

People used to argue over the temperature of the office, turning the A/C up and down until one month our electric bill, for a 2,500 square foot space, was $1,000.

Those arguments are gone and so are the, “He ate my food” and “Why are the dishes piling up in the sink” debates.

No one comes in to my office, slams the door shut, and starts to vent…no mater what I am working on at that particular point in time.

I love it.

From a business perspective, my team is completely focused on results, not activity or staying at their desk during lunch or after hours just to prove they work more hours than anyone else.

Productivity has increased nearly 30 percent.

But, on the flip side, most of our communications are electronically, where you miss sarcasm, nuances, and body language. If a person is having a bad day or isn’t feeling well, they project that on the email, instant message, text, tweet, Facebook message, or pigeon carrier you just sent. And sometimes it’s not so good.

We have to be really careful about having hard conversations in person or via the phone (which still isn’t ideal, but sometimes the only way) vs. electronically.

People ask me all the time what we do about meetings. The truth is, I’ve had the occasion to have three meetings, in the past year, that required space. And they were all with vendors so it wasn’t important we have an office to show off.

If clients in Chicago want to see us, we go to them. If out-of-town clients want to see us and they’re visiting Chicago, we meet them in their hotel lobbies.

There has only been one new business meeting where the prospect wanted to come meet with us in our offices. When I told her we are virtual, she dismissed us from her list of candidates.

I guess there still are people who think legitimate businesses have to have actual office space.

Which is Better?

All-in-all, the pros completely outweigh the cons. Heck, the increase in productivity, alone, outweighs the need for office space, rent, furniture, security, utilities, equipment, and more.

It’s a new day. The web allows us to work like generations before us never would have imagined.

We now have the opportunity to work with experts around the globe, without having to incur the cost of moving them to one location or them having uproot their lives.

Who knows? Maybe offices will eventually go away and those people who scoffed at us will come back, looking for advice on making the virtual thing work with multiple offices and multiple employees.

A girl can dream.

A version of this first appeared in my weekly Crain’s Chicago Business column.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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195 Comments on "Pros and Cons of a Virtual Office"

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StorchMurphy
StorchMurphy
3 years 11 months ago
Gini completely agree with many of your points. And, you’re absolutely right. Clients don’t ever visit. You go to them. SO, why not save the overhead and pass along the savings to the clients. Most appreciate that if the work is being done propersly.    In 2008, I trusted my gut instincts after the market crashed and all my expensive leases were coming up anyway. I’ve been operating at home ever since and I love it with the exception of a few nitpicks. 1) The human interaction (or lack there of) takes some getting used to. Fortunately, I work with… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@StorchMurphy The food one made me LOL! I have my office upstairs so I’ll get in the zone and realize I haven’t moved in hours. The managing people is the hardest part. Lots of little things I would provide in feedback while they’re happening, I hold on to until I see or talk to them in person. Otherwise I think we’d have some pretty big morale issues because feedback isn’t so great electronically.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich Does the lack of face to face communication in regards to feedback make you have second thoughts about the whole arrangement of a virtual office?

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@joshchandler Nope. As an introvert, I love it. But I was concerned about it for my team, which is why I asked them what they wanted to do. Not one person voted for the brick and mortar. I was actually surprised.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich That is fantastic. We just need more companies like yours to become real-life case studies for others to draw inspiration and a greater understanding from.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@joshchandler That’s why I’ll keep talking about it (and why I wrote about this first for our business journal). Hopefully it will allow people to start thinking about it differently and take the plunge.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich Excellent!! 🙂

ElissaFreeman
ElissaFreeman
3 years 11 months ago

Hooray! This post should serve as a conversation starter for many companies on two levels: a) do we need an office and (b) it’s okay to have employees that tele-commute. So many successful (small) businesses find the best talent…no matter where they live.  As long as a client/organization is churning out great work…who cares if they have an office or not.? Today this is the exception vs the norm…but hopefully, that will change.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@ElissaFreeman One of the things my team said to me when we talked about whether or not to go back to having an office was, “We like being on the cutting edge business growth.” Sounds like a pretty good reason to me!

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ElissaFreeman I really like your point about the quality of work and why it doesn’t matter if that employee is physically in the same office as you. I think this scares many small businesses who will have considered this route because they feel they cannot either micromanage or at least maintain a closer view on the production quality.

chelpixie
chelpixie
3 years 11 months ago

@joshchandler  @ElissaFreeman And yet, micromanaging likely does not inspire employees to get their work done.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@chelpixie  @ElissaFreeman Yeah, I know micro-managing is the world’s worst business practice. But it is still used in many small to medium sized organisations to “get things done”.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@joshchandler  @chelpixie  @ElissaFreeman I have never had time to micromanage. In fact, one of the things I decided as I went out on my own was to never do that because I HATE to be micromanaged. If people need that to succeed, they’re not going to work in our culture. And that’s fine by me.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  @chelpixie  @ElissaFreeman That is smart and refreshing. 🙂

chelpixie
chelpixie
3 years 11 months ago

@joshchandler  @ginidietrich  @ElissaFreeman They’re under the impression that it will make people work harder.  Does anyone get *less* done when micromanaged?

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@chelpixie  @ginidietrich  @ElissaFreeman 🙂

blakehall1
blakehall1
3 years 11 months ago

Businesses becoming completely virtual is exponentially increasing. And for good reason; being brick and mortar has a hefty list of disadvantages and few upsides.
 
Even a longstanding issue like being unable to speak to people face to face is no longer as problematic thanks to HD telecommunication (and will become almost irrelevant as holographic technology matures).
 
Central office locations will go the same way as filing cabinets and floppy disks.
 
With automation, even factories and restaurants will be able to virtualize eventually.
 
It’s a new era, and being ahead of the game has its advantages.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@blakehall1 Floppy disks. LOL! Those were the days weren’t they?? And…I think you’re right. Another five years and no one will no longer be looking at me like I have three heads when I say we’re virtual.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  @blakehall1 I look forward to seeing if your prediction comes true. 🙂

JustInTheSouth
3 years 11 months ago
As you know @ginidietrich I’ve been working with my team this way for over a year too.  It took a little getting used to, since most of team I’ve yet to meet IRL. I love the digital office. I feel that our team have become GREAT communicators because they have too.   The best part is I now have the best talent in the world, because they don’t have to be here in the South with me.   It is funny though, the few times a few of us have been in our HQ in Orlando, we feel like we… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@JustInTheSouth I would imagine you get nothing done because you’re also busy catching up and chit chatting – stuff you don’t do when you’re at your own desks. 
 
I thought clients would be funny about it, but no one cares as long as we’re doing our jobs. And I think most thing we’re doing even better now. Hopefully the prospects will come along someday, too.

JustInTheSouth
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich You are right, they don’t care long as they are getting what they pay for and they can have access to you like normal.  Most of our clients love that they get more facetime because we do more Skype calls than most things. So we get to see them face to face.
 
It will be interesting to me to hear in a year, what it is like for you leading a team this way. I find that the internal cat-fights happen less and that the team is way more productive, but they also seem to get bored with things sooner.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@JustInTheSouth I don’t have anyone who is bored. But you know me, I’m a task master! We’re focused solely on the things that drive results, which means no one has time to be bored. In fact, I’m thinking about doing some sort of “get away from your computer screen” contest this winter because I’m concerned everyone will work more because it’s cold and gross outside.

M_Koehler
M_Koehler
3 years 11 months ago
I cannot speak about the pros and cons in your field but in my job I LOVE working at home. Our group initially started doing it as a half flex day once a week when gas prices here in St Louis were circling $4 (yeah I know that’s cheap compared to you guys) and it has slowly expanded to when things are slow or there is something going on with the Cardinals because of our proximity to Busch. 95% of my day is at my desk reporting, or putting out fires at our factories, or dealing with requests/issues from our… Read more »
joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@M_Koehler You have proven that by separating your work from the minutiae of office politics, you are much more productive! 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@M_Koehler I think the difference is you have an office to go to so, while working at home is more productive for you, you have the challenge of being stabbed in the back while you’re not there. We don’t have an office so that can’t happen.

M_Koehler
M_Koehler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich True. But I’d get stabbed in the back either way. I’d rather work from my home office or living room. I get so much more done and I’m more comfortable, and I’m not sitting in the petri dish that is the office environment.

chelpixie
chelpixie
3 years 11 months ago

You described me in a nutshell, I hate interruptions and I like my routine.  I also like finding my own path through the work day and not being pressured to make it what someone else needs to be because they are in the room.  
 
Sure there are still emergencies but I get so much more done being virtual.  Here’s raising a glass to virtual offices.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@chelpixie Are you operating a successful virtual office at the moment?

chelpixie
chelpixie
3 years 11 months ago

@joshchandler I am, but it’s an office of one.  I’d love to work in a virtual office with others. 🙂

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@chelpixie Well, what is stopping you? 🙂

chelpixie
chelpixie
3 years 11 months ago

@joshchandler Nothing, working on changing it. 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@chelpixie I will DEFINITELY raise a glass to that AND to fellow introverts!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@NickWestergaard Thanks Nick! And I’d LOVE that!

bradmarley
3 years 11 months ago
My company has a very flexible work-from-home policy. In fact, my boss always tells us that we can work from a beach in Jamaica as long as the work gets done. I find that when I do work from home, I like being able to get started earlier, and having the ability to work in pajama pants is a benefit that should not be taken lightly. Also, traffic lately has been brutal, and I find that it affects my mood in negative ways.   Basically, if I could work from home every day, I would. As gas prices continue to… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@bradmarley “Having the ability to work in pajama pants is a benefit that should not be taken lightly.” HAHAHAH! I just did half my in-person 121s in running pants and a Nike jacket.

KenMueller
3 years 11 months ago

I’m on my own, so my office is wherever I happen to be with my laptop. Though I am now mulling over the pros and cons of expanding and hiring, which would definitely be a virtual office situation for whomever came on board. Personally, I wouldn’t do it any other way. It would be really hard for me to get back into a real office situation.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@KenMueller You wouldn’t be able to work from the couch!

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@KenMueller Or the porch!

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@KenMueller Or your chair!

KenMueller
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich I”m sitting in the chair now and Shadow is laying on the couch snoring loudly. I’d miss that! It’s my white noise!

Brent@Echelonseo.com
3 years 11 months ago

@KenMueller  @ginidietrich don’t mean to intrude, but its so true – its great being home with the dogs. We’ve developed a set routine.  I think it would be very hard on them (and me) if I were to start going back to an office.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@Brent@Echelonseo.com  @KenMueller Unless you could take them with you…

magriebler
magriebler
3 years 11 months ago

@KenMueller I can see all of you sitting on your respective porches, working away ….

dbinkowski
3 years 11 months ago
I could not agree more. As a virtual agency owner myself all of what you mentioned has allowed me to lower costs, deliver with better quality and at a much more reasonable price to my clients.I also concur that there are some people yet to get over the virtual agency “hump”, if you will. Younger digital and social media managers are OK with it (in fact some prefer it), but larger, more traditional brands want an office to visit or go to so it feels “legit”. Meanwhile they keep paying extraordinary rates to keep the lights on at their current… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago
@dbinkowski All of the big agencies in Chicago are on Michigan Avenue. When I started my business, I thought we had to be there and the only thing I could afford was one office in the interior of an ad agency. There were four of us in that office (and I mean one windowless office, not a conference room) so clients couldn’t have visited us had they wanted to. I never again want to spend the kind of money it requires for some people to feel like we’re legitimate. I guess if our not having actual office space makes us not… Read more »
magriebler
magriebler
3 years 11 months ago
The day will come when we’ll shake our heads in wonder over the idea of brick-and-mortar offices just the way we do over the thought of phones that were attached to the WALL, for God’s sake, or the Pony Express. Driving to another building when you have everything you need to do your job right at home? Wasting gas and time in your commute, putting wear-and-tear on your car, your shoes, your good mood? What were people thinking?   But it’s change and change is hard. Bosses fear losing control. Employees worry about being lonely or overlooked or at a… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@magriebler I’ll continue to write about our journey with this. It was so easy about six months ago, but then we got in our groove and we’re all doing really well. Hopefully the more vocal we are about it, the more willing other business leaders are to take the risk.

JodiEchakowitz
JodiEchakowitz
3 years 11 months ago
Gini, I’m thrilled to hear that the virtual approach has worked so well for you and your team. The pro’s definitely outweigh the cons. The key thing for anyone considering going this route is figuring out what works well when it comes to managing/working effectively with a virtual team (and it sounds like you have nailed this down) and supporting the needs of clients. As for those who dismiss the idea of working with you because you are virtual – they clearly have no idea that success has nothing to do with where the team is located, but rather the… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@JodiEchakowitz I remember three years ago asking you about working virtually and you gushed on and on about it. I very vividly remember thinking, “There is no way we could do that.”
 
Even I’m wrong! (sometimes)

jasonkonopinski
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  @JodiEchakowitz #timestamped

jasonkonopinski
3 years 11 months ago

When Lisa and I moved to PA from VA in 2007, I was still working for Jupiterimages. Did two years in a virtual environment.  There was a little resistance when I first proposed the arrangement, but my sales numbers spoke for themselves. 
 
The routine was important for me: I needed to actually get dressed to mentally prepare myself for the work day.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@jasonkonopinski That’s so funny! I need not to get dressed. In fact, I sometimes don’t shower until late afternoon or early evening. And if Mr. D isn’t home? Don’t tell him, but I pile my hair on top of my head and don’t even put on makeup after I shower.

jasonkonopinski
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich I knew it! 🙂 
 
It was about setting the routine early on while I was still adjusting to the non-office environment. I’m looser with that now, although I am in the Vocus offices now. 🙂

M_Koehler
M_Koehler
3 years 11 months ago

@jasonkonopinski  @ginidietrich I do the same…the not showering part. Not the make up part. I always make sure I have a good blush on.

KristenDaukas
3 years 11 months ago

I merged my company earlier this year and moved from a virtual office 100% of the time to a bricks and mortar the majority of the time. Can I tell you that my productivity has decreased being in an office? I enjoy the staff but there are distractions for sure. I’m sure they think I’m anti-social but that’s not it at all – I just get so focused on what I’m doing that I tend to tune everything out.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@KristenDaukas Ug. I’m not sure I could do it, Kristen. It’d be really interesting to hear you talk more about this (privately, if you want). Not being able to ride my bike at lunchtime would be enough to send me into a spiral of depression.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich That’s interesting to hear how riding your bike at lunchtime has such a positive impact. 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@joshchandler When we had the office, I’d get up at 5, feed and walk Jack Bauer, and be on my bike by 5:45. I’d ride until 7:30ish, shower, and then get to the office. Then I’d work until 7 or 8 and head home to do it all over again.
 
Now, not only does the bike ride break up my day, if I get up at the crack of dawn, it’s to write. And I’m tan and in shape and VERY happy. It makes me a much better leader.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich 🙂

jasonkonopinski
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  @KristenDaukas Having access to the gym right beside the office here at Vocus rules so hard.

KristenDaukas
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich I’m not chained to a desk like many people that I know but it’s amazing how many distractions there are in an office. I’d be happy to commiserate with you 🙂

sydcon_mktg
3 years 11 months ago
We have our “physical” brick & mortar office and I have a home office. I split my time in order to keep up with the kids, etc.  For some reason it seems when people hire programmers they have a bigger aversion to “virtual”.  From our feedback it increases the fear of outsourcing overseas or the stero-typical nerd type working in their parents basements! LOL!! We still get new clients who come right out and say they want to come and “SEE” our office, aka make sure we are not basement dwellers! LOL!   Realistically we could function fully virtually.  We… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@sydcon_mktg Ah man! I tell everyone you work from your mom’s basement. That’s not true?? That whole needing to see the space to make sure you’re legit makes me nuts. That’ll change. Probably in time for all your kids to be in college.

sydcon_mktg
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich LOL!!! I hate going into office cause my routine is pretty much the one you described to @jasonkonopinski , with one exception…I do that all the time! 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@sydcon_mktg  HAHAHAH! I do a lot of meetings outside of my house and a TON of speaking gigs. So I can’t do it all the time. But without those? Totally would.

stevenmcoyle
3 years 11 months ago

When I first moved to Chicago, I had a virtual marketing position with a start-up tech company and the pro of not having to dress up everyday was benefit enough. Coming straight from college where you can do your work at anytime and any place, my productivity was through the roof.  It’s much easier to establish a routine at home than in an office. 
 
The con, I worked with people who were scared of the phone. That drove me crazy.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@stevenmcoyle I’ve shied away from hiring brand spanking new college graduates because I feel like most don’t have the motivation or experience to make a work at home position work. We tend to migrate to those with five or more years of experience.
 
So let me ask you this…am I being silly? And if yes, what tips do you have for those leaving college and going directly into a virtual environment?

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich I hate that some college graduates give the rest of hard working college students like me a bad reputation.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@joshchandler I tell this to new college grads all the time: You have peers who are connecting with business leaders online, showing them what they can bring to their organizations before they hire them, and kicking butt in general. They are going to beat you every time…even if your resume is better than theirs.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich And yet, they never seem to pay attention until it is too late!

stevenmcoyle
3 years 11 months ago
@ginidietrich Are you being silly? Not at all. I understand the risk the comes with hiring new graduates. But I do think a few bad apples have given us all a bad name. It really depends on the motivation of the candidate. As someone who graduated college in 3 years, my drive and level of focus is typically higher than my counterparts. With that being said, I know a few graduates I would love to work with and then others who I wouldn’t dare recommend hiring (yet somehow they are the ones with jobs). I think working virtually takes a particular… Read more »
belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 11 months ago
When I tell people that I work from home, two things inevitably happen: 1) either they don’t think I have a “real” job (older, more conservative people) or 2) they think that’s the most fantastic thing they’ve ever heard of and wish they could do t he same!    That said, many of those same people tell me that they could never deal with WFH – they would lie on the couch all day, have no motivation, etc., etc.. I’m the *exact* opposite – I love it – I get started hours earlier, don’t waste any time  or money commuting,… Read more »
joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@belllindsay Yes, trust is hugely important!

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago
@belllindsay I get more the first reaction. What do you mean you don’t have an office? How do you manage people? How do you know if they’re doing their jobs?    Well, as you well know, we focus on results, not on whether or not each of you are sitting at your desks for 10 hours a day. But some people won’t get it … and (for me) it’s not always the older generation.   As to trust, being in this kind of environment means you have to trust your team. Because of the goals we’ve created together, I know whether… Read more »
belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  You’re right, goals, accomplishments yadda, yadda that would clearly illustrate if a staffer was spending their days at the spa – but I’ve worked in virtual set ups in the past where every move you made, every moment you weren’t instantaneously available online was so micro-managed you almost couldn’t take a bathroom break! 😉 You nailed it with this: “you’re working with adults” – from your mouth to god’s ears my friend!!!

kateupdates
3 years 11 months ago

@belllindsay I’m totally about working when I’m at work. And I’m an extrovert so it’s not like I don’t like people 🙂 I just like to knock the day out of the park and close my laptop fully satisfied that I took care of business and didn’t waste time. I’ve always been slightly frustrated with the coworkers that come in and talk all day. How can you get results like that? I love talking to people but by golly I’m here to work!

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 11 months ago

@kateupdates And I have worked in some *noisy* offices. I agree. Used to drive me nuts!!! I worked with earplugs in, but that barely helped. 😉

stevenmcoyle
3 years 11 months ago

@kateupdates  @belllindsay The noise of co-workers drive crazy. That combined with the constant office gossip is a complete distraction. I try to stay out of it. Everyone knows when I have my headphones in that I’m working. It’s my “don’t bother me unless it’s work related” sign. Outside of work I’m a really social person.

PerfectFitTech
PerfectFitTech
3 years 11 months ago

@belllindsay Enjoy working from home today Lindsay, and tomorrow for that matter 🙂

bdorman264
3 years 11 months ago
Our lease ran out in our Tampa office so we made arrangements to move. Of course, it was right in the middle of the Republican National Convention so it resulted in us being ‘homeless’ for two months. It meant 12 people went ‘virtual’ overnight.   We already had a handful of people in our Lakeland office working virtual, but sending Tampa out on their own opened our eyes to few things.   1) Not everybody is suited for a virtual environment so you have to take that in consideration when offering it or hiring for it. 2) Working virtual there… Read more »
AmyMccTobin
3 years 11 months ago

@bdorman264 I didn’t know you were in Tampa Bill – I’m right down on Anna Maria Island – we need to meet up, at a Starbucks:)

bdorman264
3 years 11 months ago

@AmyMccTobin Absolutely; AMI is little Lakeland anyway. I usually run into more people I know from Lakeland there than on the street here in town….:).

AmyMccTobin
3 years 11 months ago

@bdorman264 Well… it’s a good thing you survived so we can get together.

bdorman264
3 years 11 months ago

@AmyMccTobin Starbucks or Duffy’s……….:).

AmyMccTobin
3 years 11 months ago

@bdorman264 They’re too mean at Duffy’s.  No Starbucks on the island, but we do have a new coffee shop… or, drinks at the Sand Bar.

bdorman264
3 years 11 months ago

@AmyMccTobin Absolutely; which is owned by a Lakeland guy BTW….imagine that….:).

bdorman264
3 years 11 months ago

@AmyMccTobin What about the old IGA, isn’t there a coffee shop in there still?

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@AmyMccTobin You live on Anna Maria Island? Jealous. I went there a few years back and loved it!!

AmyMccTobin
3 years 11 months ago

@joshchandler I am very, very blessed Josh.

magriebler
magriebler
3 years 11 months ago

@bdorman264 I like the perspective you bring. I like working virtually because I think I’m a better, more creative worker as a result. No doubt that’s just how I’m wired. So I appreciate that you bring up the kinds of nuts-and-bolts issues that may cause others to be resistant to the virtual workplace … when I just think they’re being old-fashioned cranky pants.

bdorman264
3 years 11 months ago

@magriebler Don’t hire cranky pants…….:). We have no room for you here……….

Brent@Echelonseo.com
3 years 11 months ago

@bdorman264 Hey Bill – hate to admit it, but lost in the blah, blah, blah of the insurance speak are some really good points. I don’t think it is for everyone and that needs to be considered when hiring, but also when making the initial change. And its true, hard to “get away” from the office and turn off for the day.

bdorman264
3 years 11 months ago

@Brent@Echelonseo.com See, I know ‘stuff’……………:)

kateupdates
3 years 11 months ago

@bdorman264 I like your point of feeling like you need to be working all the time when you have virtual office. There is definitely something to be said about expectations and the ability to unplug for your health and sanity.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@bdorman264 And these are all things we consider. In fact, we’re working through tax liabilities in each city (and Canada!) right now. The other interesting thing I’m facing, as a business owner, that I never considered is how benefits affect our people not in the U.S. Suddenly they no longer are a selling point for coming to work with us. And the exchange rate? Oh my. It’s been a really interesting experience.

Adam | Customer Experience
3 years 11 months ago

@bdorman264 Dang Bill. What he said!

CommProSuzi
CommProSuzi
3 years 11 months ago

I am THRILLED to hear your assessment, Gini! Working virtually, ie from home, is freeing I am more productive. As much as I miss the camaraderie of office mates, I enjoy being able to go to lunch with a friend, take a walk around he block to clear my head and work as long as I want or need to. Clock punching is so unneeded. Further, if I needed a traditional office address or setting, I suppose I could always look into the shared office building down the street. (Whoever came up with that idea is a genius!)

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@CommProSuzi Isn’t that one of those ideas  you wish you’d come up with?

AmyMccTobin
3 years 11 months ago

I JUST visited one of those shared office complexes that handles your admin virtually and offers conference rooms in case you need them.  I can’t bear working from home – I rent a small office, but I certainly LOVE being the only one in it. The rest of my team is scattered all over… when we need face time we Skype.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@AmyMccTobin You are obviously benefiting from having the best of both worlds Amy. 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@AmyMccTobin For meetings and such, those places are awesome!

MarthaCarlos
MarthaCarlos
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich This is such a great idea. Increase productivity and save $ on commuting costs, heating bills and lipstick to boot.

jelenawoehr
3 years 11 months ago
You know… I don’t think I’d like it.   I’m a very work-oriented person and I like long hours, so a lot of my contact with other people comes from seeing them at the office. I mean, not that I don’t hang out with friends or have hobbies, but most nights as soon as I leave work I’m packing my dog into the car and heading to the barn to spend a couple hours with my horses, not going out with my buddies. I don’t know if I’d ever go out to lunch with friends if I didn’t physically have… Read more »
joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@jelenawoehr That’s an interesting perspective Jelena. I must admit I can totally relate to your dilemma with household chores. It’s all about prioritising the most important things on my to-do list and then doing things like dishes after I have completed my work.
 
I can also relate to your point about enjoying the company of others in a work environment. I feel my IQ go up a few points when I am amongst smart people who are like minded.

Brent@Echelonseo.com
3 years 11 months ago

@jelenawoehr I’ve been working at home this past year and love it, however, I think that I could be very happy on a large tech campus. Somewhere where you have your independence but there is energy and others around. Of course, I will have to either join a large tech company or higher some employees first, but its interesting to think about.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@jelenawoehr I think you’d be surprised. As much work as you do while the rest of the world sleeps, I think you’d thrive by not having specific work hours and not having someone looking over your shoulder. In fact, when you did work with us, I never worried about your missing a deadline or not doing your work exceptionally well.

jelenawoehr
3 years 11 months ago
@ginidietrich This is a good point — I do like to keep my own, odd hours. I didn’t think of that right away because I’ve been fortunate (or stubborn) enough to pretty much carve out my own schedule for the last couple years while working in an office environment. My last manager and I actually had a deal (he was EST, 2 hours ahead, and a morning bird) where our working hours were staggered so that I’d send him work after he’d gone home (and often after he’d gone to bed) and I’d have it back with his edits by the… Read more »
PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight
3 years 11 months ago

I was one of those who resisted to the end but find that I am much more productive without the office distractions.  And our vendor expenses have gone down drastically.  And the best is NO MORE COMMUTE to downtown Chicago.  It works really well for us…In my opinion.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@PattiRoseKnight I don’t think you resisted it at all. In fact, the first time I floated it by you, I expected resistance. But you said, “Great! Let’s try it.” I don’t think you thought you’d like it as much as you do, but I wouldn’t say you resisted it.

SkyeLRodgers
SkyeLRodgers
3 years 11 months ago

I started working from home almost two years ago and I absolutely love it. For the first year I was working with a client in Canada (I am in Tampa) and did not feel that the distance was a problem at all. In fact, I thought the distance was key in preserving my sanity during a very stressful project. Now that I am looking for new clients and working to develop new revenue streams, WFH makes this financially possible by keeping my costs as low as possible.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@SkyeLRodgers That’s fantastic Skye. 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@SkyeLRodgers We do lots of work in Canada, too, and it’s no problem. I’m trying to figure out how to work in Europe right now. The biggest challenge? The time change. But other than that, proximity is no longer a necessity.

SkyeLRodgers
SkyeLRodgers
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  @SkyeLRodgers
 I’ve worked remotely with people in London which worked out OK as their workday overlaps with my morning time and allows for real-time conversation when necessary. It’s harder when working with people in India where the workday does not overlap at all.

thejoshuawilner
3 years 11 months ago
I have had a remote office for more than six years now and most of the time I love it. I don’t have an hour or more commute any more, don’t spend money on work clothes, the dry cleaner and all sorts of miscellaneous other things like I used to.   People sometimes ask if I get distracted by being home and I laugh. The biggest distractions are the little people who spend most of the day in school. When they are home on break it is sometimes challenging so I rearrange my schedule as best I can.   But… Read more »
joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@thejoshuawilner That must be so rewarding to be such an active father for your children. 🙂

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@thejoshuawilner And no one pays attention to whether or not you’re commenting on Spin Sucks or working until 2 a.m.

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  @thejoshuawilner It’s in my contract, isn’t it? 😉

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@belllindsay  It is in YOUR contract, yes.

Carmelo
3 years 11 months ago
In a way, I guess I could say I started working from home back in 1978 when I was a salesman for Gerber Products company. Then, in 1982 when I managed the SF bay area sales people I set up my office at home as well.   Other than a 7 year stint as a stockbroker where I went to the office each day, I’ve been working from home in all the businesses I’ve done. I’ve hired and remotely “managed” many people over the years, even before this “virtual world” began. Now it’s much easier. Got a guy in the… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@Carmelo I wonder if us introverts would like it as much without the web and social networks? I worked out of the house when I first opened Arment Dietrich and I hated it because I never saw people. I think, given my travel schedule and the online tools at my disposable, it’s much better now.

Carmelo
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich It is better now with these tools. It’s funny. You’d almost think introverts wouldn’t want/need to contact but we do. I mean, I don’t want want to to out much, go to bars, parties, church … love my alone time but then I miss people. Weird. Don’t want to be an extrovert, however. 😉
 
(People I meet and talk to in person cannot believe I’m an introvert … I’m sure that’s much like you.)
 
Yes, you do get out quite a bit now. I’m certain that helps. But, I bet you don’t always enjoy the hustle and exposure?

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@Carmelo I HATE it. I do it because it’s extremely good for business. I kind of wish the ROI weren’t so high so I could stop doing it. But, like you, I like to be around people. But if it’s after I’ve worked a very long day or toward the end of the week, I’d rather pour myself a glass of wine and read a book than go out.

Carmelo
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich yeah, me too.

Brent@Echelonseo.com
3 years 11 months ago
Thanks for sharing your experiences Gini! I moved to a home office last April and love it! I work be myself still so have not had to experience managing employees yet, but am encouraged to hear how things are working for you. The only downside that I have experienced so far is that I have 2 teens, and although they are getting better about it, they don’t always recognize that I am still at work – the summer’s are especially hard that way. Actually I have noticed one other thing and am curious if anyone else has experienced it? Now… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@Brent@Echelonseo.com Yeah – I don’t have kids and can’t imagine working from home if I did…if only because of the constant interruptions. That would drive me nuts.
 
I don’t know about the traffic and crowds thing because I’ve always hated both. I mean, hate. I won’t go anywhere if I know there is going to be a crowd. If family comes to visit during Christmastime, I send them to Michigan Avenue alone.
 
You know what starts in two and a half weeks?!?

Brent@Echelonseo.com
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich : ) I do – yikes! Almost forwarded you a blog post from a veteran participant this morning. I definitely need to do some work to get ready. How are you feeling about it?

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@Brent@Echelonseo.com I have a notebook that I’ve been using to prep. But I still have some work to do so I’m ready to hit the ground running. Send me that link!

barbsawyers
3 years 11 months ago

For me, one of the best parts is working in pajamas till I feel like putting on gym clothes. It’s fun to get dressed up to see clients, friends and other people occasionally, though I’ve come to resent the ironing. Makeup too.

stevenmcoyle
3 years 11 months ago

@barbsawyers Not dressing up is the single most selling point for me. I spend too much time picking out my attire for work.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@barbsawyers Dang! You too?!? I wear my PJs until I go for a ride at noon. Then, depending on meetings and calls, I may stay in my cycling clothes until late afternoon. So I totally get the iron resentment.

barbsawyers
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich Fortunately, dogs don’t mind our sweat.

ExtremelyAvg
3 years 11 months ago

I’m so glad you did a follow-up post about your experiences. We live in a new age and getting more productivity with less expenditure (gas, time, ect on the part of the employees), just makes sense.
 
Can you imagine how much more efficient the Big Six publishers would be if they got rid of all their brick and mortar expenses? I mean, seriously, they all are in New York, and everything they do can be handled via email. They work with words. It is these unnecessary, vanity costs that will eventually do most of them in.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@ExtremelyAvg I think vanity costs will do most big business in. Maybe the brick and mortar never goes away completely, but I can see smaller groups convening rather than having six floors in a skyscraper.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  @ExtremelyAvg I personally believe that those in the corporate world probably share the belief that a big office equals success.

kateupdates
3 years 11 months ago
LOL about the kitchen sink and venting. Been there.   Love this @ginidietrich ! I’ve had virtual offices off and on over the past several years and I have to say I’ve truly enjoyed them. As long as you’re committed, honest and passionate about what you do, I see this scenario as a PLUS. As an extrovert, “seeing” people is important to me. That is where I think Skype can be super valuable when you’re working within a virtual office. Tools like Yammer or Facebook Groups can also be helpful (as long as your not sharing confidential info on FB… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@kateupdates We actually use Skype IM…probably too much. That, and for those of us who have iPhones, iMessages because they go from phone to tablet to laptop really easily. Other than Monday 121s and Tuesday staff meetings, we don’t have required check-ins.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  @kateupdates The simplicity of a virtual office should mean that employees can just check-in when they need to, am I right?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@CigdemKobu Thank you!

delwilliams
3 years 11 months ago

You know Gini, you could rent one of the meeting spaces at a co working site. Usually not more than $100 if you had to for a meeting. That’s how some make extra cash on top of the desk space.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@delwilliams Yeah…but we’ve never had the need. If we did, we have plenty of friends who still have offices and I’d use their conference rooms.

delwilliams
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich I must admit I have never met someone who adjusts and pivots accordingly like you do. Yes, I do think you hung the moon.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@delwilliams  Ahhhhh! I love you, too!

LauraScholz
LauraScholz
3 years 11 months ago
I love that you’re virtual now. I’ve done it for five years—and managed as many as three employees at a time. They loved it. Now, I just have one intern, and we meet every couple of weeks. Generally just to catch up. What I love most–in addition to not having to put on real girl clothes and make-up and then commuting–is the control over my schedule. Today, I took got up at 7am, took a class at 9am, ran for six miles, went home, had lunch, worked for a few hours, then came back to the studio for a class,… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@LauraScholz Some of this was done out of necessity, but also because I got to work  one day and Patti was the only there…and I was paying a gazillion dollars in rent. So necessity created innovation.

allenmireles
3 years 11 months ago

As you know, I am a big fan of our virtual office and I have worked virtually in my own business for the past 19 years. At Arment Dietrich I never feel disconnected from the team and we communicate all day long. I also love the fact that I can work from my office here or from Boston or LA–a huge selling point for me.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@allenmireles Patti and I were talking yesterday about the holidays and where she thought she’d spend them. She asked me if I minded. Heck, I don’t care where you are, as long as you have an Internet connection!

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  @allenmireles What a perfect response Gini. 🙂

barrettrossie
3 years 11 months ago
I was a distance-based marketing guy with an IT company in Virginia for over a year. But since I was the only one in marketing, there wasn’t that much communication on a daily basis. The people I was working with were on sales calls or handling IT crises constantly. It was the height of the recession, and overall, it wasn’t a very good experience, although we did get some things accomplished. They wanted to see me for a week each month, which was weird because they didn’t even have time to work together I got there. They just wanted to… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@barrettrossie Yeah, I definitely think it would be more difficult if you were the only one working remotely while everyone else was in an office. We did that for a while and then decided to see if we could all work from home. I didn’t expect it to work as well as it has and I certainly expected everyone to say, “OK, that was fun. It’s time to get an office again.” But I was wrong!

Adam | Customer Experience
3 years 11 months ago

So many comments, I think I will just add that the industry plays a part as well — perhaps not in the decision but at least in the resources needed to support a staff remotely. Being in PR, you obviously have a tech-savvy org. If you were managing a team of auto part salespeople, it might not be as easy or have as great an impact on productivity.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@Adam | Customer Experience Right. And I talked to a friend last night who works for a university. Same thing…at least until online education is the next big thing. But restaurants, Starbucks…places like that will always be brick and mortar.

joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  @Adam | Customer Experience Gini, are you telling me we will never have virtual Starbucks??

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@joshchandler  I don’t know how it would work. Even if they delivered, they’d still need a place to go to make it.

Cuecos
Cuecos
3 years 11 months ago

@ladyxtel @ginidietrich I liked the article (and the idea) very much! Have a great week!

NathanKSmith
3 years 11 months ago
I think it really depends on the size of the company and the type of job an employee has.  The larger a company gets the more difficult it can be to manage them remotely.  It can be done with today’s technology however not everyone is tech savvy enough to do it.   Employees who travel a lot may prefer working remotely since being away from home can take its toll on family life.  They want to spend as much time as they can with their family.  Others who have to concentrate & collaborate more on projects may do better in… Read more »
joshchandler
3 years 11 months ago

@NathanKSmith Yes, I would agree. It is important to consider the type of employee you should allow to work virtually and not simply assume everyone will work well in the virtual space.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@NathanKSmith I just read an article in Inc about this very thing. There is some software built specifically for virtual offices that allows (allows?) you to track how much time your employees are spending on their computers. It tells you what sites they’re visiting, how many keystrokes they make, and more. From my perspective, if you have to put those controls in place, you don’t have the right adults working for you.

NathanKSmith
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich   I can’t imagine any employee that works virtual would like knowing that their every move is being digitally watched.  At the end of the day if your employees are being creative & productive, your customer base is growing and happy, and your company profits are growing there is no reason to micro manage their every move.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@NathanKSmith Right? I can’t imagine leading a company that didn’t trust its employees. I just don’t have the time or energy to check up on them like that.

AlmostSavvy
AlmostSavvy
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich  @NathanKSmith Tracking virtual employees while who knows how much time on-site employees are spending on Facebook, Amazon or texting their friends? It makes no sense to micromanage people to this degree. As you said, if you’ve got the right people, get out of the way and trust them to deliver. And, if you’ve got the right people, tracking their bathroom breaks and keystrokes will surely cause them to go find someone else who will value and trust them.

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@AlmostSavvy  Right? I would certainly find a new job.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@coledouglas7 Thank you!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@P51Dave Thanks!

P51Dave
P51Dave
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich you are so welcome, my office went virtual years ago for the same reasons, still going strong

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@P51Dave I kind of love working from home. You too?

P51Dave
P51Dave
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich absolutely-get to stay comfortable, there is the problem of no separation work/personal life, P51 is single location

shawmu
shawmu
3 years 11 months ago

@Cojourneo cheers! How’s the day going?

wilcocoms
wilcocoms
3 years 11 months ago

@Steveology @ginidietrich Good day to you Steve.

Steveology
Steveology
3 years 11 months ago

@wilcocoms Cheers!

janbeery
3 years 11 months ago

Gini, we’ve come to the conclusion, that with our team spread around the globe, with only a few members in town, it’s our goal to get there. 
Happy to get rid of the lease. (have another year on it) then we’ll be implementing a similar set up. We already have “virtual Mondays,” which has worked out well. 
Our clients don’t need to come here very often, and we also meet them in the hotel lobby, when their in town. 
Thanks for sharing, Gini. I was going to ask you how it’s going! 😉

ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@janbeery We really love it. I was expecting people in Chicago to tell me it was time to get an office. But they each said, “NO WAY!” Other than the occasional prospect who’s not OK with it, it’s been fantastic!

Kellymotivates
Kellymotivates
3 years 11 months ago

@geoffliving Hey Geoff! How is Soleil? (I hope I spelled her name right)

geoffliving
geoffliving
3 years 11 months ago

@Kellymotivates She’s great! Played in a pumpkin patch today. How are you doing?

Kellymotivates
Kellymotivates
3 years 11 months ago

@geoffliving I am doing great thanks! How cute that she played in a pumpkin patch, the pics must be gorgeous!! Nice to hear of your JOY!

YourCityOffice
YourCityOffice
3 years 11 months ago

@janbeery Hi Jan, We have virtual offices in Illinois http://t.co/UztnvDFq Take a look and see if we are a fit for what you’re exploring 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@ALekushoff Thanks Andrea!

lauraclick
3 years 11 months ago
Read this post earlier in the week and am just now getting a chance to comment. So glad you’re enjoying a virtual office. I think there are huge benefits to this for the businesses that can do it. Not only does it make you more productive – it makes you more cost-effective for you and for your clients. So far, I’ve only had one person seem uncomfortable with the fact that I don’t have a REAL office. It will be interesting to see if more offices move this direction.   I’ve been working at home for eight months now and It’s… Read more »
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@lauraclick This year I decided not to let working from home interfere with my life. I have an office and I come in here every day. Then I shut my computers down at the end of the day and don’t restart them until the next morning. If I go through the trouble of restarting my computer, it’s for something really important. And I stopped working weekends. If I can’t get my work done during the week, I have a priority (or delegation) issue.

lauraclick
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich A really great model, for sure! That’s something I’m working toward. For me, I think it might just be time to get some more help!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 11 months ago

@DaveThackeray Thanks for the RTs this morning (er, afternoon)!

DaveThackeray
DaveThackeray
3 years 11 months ago

@ginidietrich We all get bogged down in this timezone parlaver. When it’s midday here, it’s midday. End of. You look great in a sombrero.

wagnerwrites
wagnerwrites
3 years 11 months ago

@todayspreneur @KavalonThatsMe Thanks for the RTs. (I love @SpinSucks.)

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