How a Virtual Office Allows You to Stop and Smell the RosesBy Gini Dietrich

It’s hard to stop and smell the roses. Americans, particularly, live in a constant, 24/7, keeping up with the Jones’s society.  We’re so focused on what comes next, we forget to slow down – or even stop – to look back and see what we’ve accomplished.

In November 2011, we moved Arment Dietrich out of our 2,500 square foot office space in downtown Chicago. By that time, we’d already begun a transition to a more flexible work environment and had people working in Idaho, New York City, Colorado, Ohio, and California.

One day, after traveling for a few days, I went into the office and all that space was empty. Patti Knight was the only one in that day and she was sitting there all alone.

I just shook my head.

Virtual Office Space

Between that and how much we were spending in rent each month, we decided to go completely virtual for a year to see how we liked it.

It wasn’t until the movers were taking our furniture and boxes down the 66 stairs to the moving van that I stopped to look at what we’d built and it made me a little sad to be giving that up.

Fast forward to today and, while we don’t have the office space and fancy furniture to tell our story to those who don’t yet know us, we’re a stronger, more efficient, and more profitable organization.

Here’s the other thing we (society) do: We worry about what people think if we don’t do things the way everyone else does. For a long time, I didn’t want to admit we don’t have an office because I know how some prospects view that. Along the way, we decided those people aren’t our target audience.


We focus, instead, on attracting, hiring, and retaining the very best talent for the job. We don’t have to worry about moving those people to our headquarters in Chicago, we don’t have to  pay per square footage, we don’t even have to buy technology or cell phones anymore.

This allows us to compete with some of the larger communications firms because we don’t have all that overhead.

For clients, it reduces our fees. For the company, it increases our profitability. Employees see it as a huge benefit and it allows us to compete at a different level than before. For me, I can focus on what’s important and not on why someone’s lunch is missing from the fridge or why the air is down too low.

We do things such as Google Hangouts for our staff meetings, a steps contest using a Jawbone UP – which the company purchased for everyone -and even use video technology to brainstorm or collaborate nearly every day.

Some of us leave our desks at lunchtime to exercise, while others prefer to take their dogs on long walks at 9 a.m.

We have unlimited vacation and sick time because we’re focused on results and not whether or not people have their butts in their seats from 8:30-5:30 every day. No one is worried that so-and-so goes to the gym at 3:30 in the afternoon because they only see the person is accomplishing their goals.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Because we had a goal of doing this for only a year, we constantly reviewed what was working and what wasn’t working. When it came time to vote on getting office space again, the answer was a resounding no. Not one person voted yes (including me).

Sure, being a virtual organization has its cons – just like having office space does – but it allows us to stop and smell the roses every day.

We’re focused on business growth and on becoming a communications firm of the future, not on keeping up with the Jones’s.

P.S. We’re just a little more than a week away from our free webinar with email marketing genius, DJ Waldow. Join us on Thursday, July 25 at 11 a.m. CT. Register by clicking here.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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