By Kyle Moore | Harkcon's President
“To be a successful virtual company, you need to find ways to connect your isolated workers and emphasize soft skill development as much as technical competence.”
Running a small business is a challenge. Not having your staff physically with you as you run your business could be perceived as an even greater challenge. If you’re willing to leverage today’s technology, you can “connect” with your employees, no matter where you or they are, and provide the oversight, project management, training, and social engagement all employees need. With a little foresight and planning, you can overcome the biggest obstacles of running a virtual, including:
Maintaining clear and open communication with all employees
Providing opportunities for employees to create personal and professional relationships
Improving employees’ interpersonal skills
Sharing ideas and expertise
Forming cohesive teams
To be, or not to be: the pros and cons of virtual operations
Harkcon started as a virtual company out of necessity. To begin with, the partners forming the company were spread out across the United States. Next, many of them had full time jobs elsewhere, and could only work in the evenings and on weekends. The good news was that the work we perform – human performance technology – can be accomplished anywhere as long as we have internet connectivity.
As Harkcon grew (as of this writing, we employ over 100 associates in 22 different states and have never owned or leased office space), we found many advantages associated with being a virtual company:
Reduced overhead costs
Increased teleworking and flex-time opportunities
Expanded job applicant pool – stay-at-homes, out-of-staters, etc.
Extended business development “reach” across the country
Constant exposure to, and interaction with, new technologies used to keep us “connected”
While these advantages proved beneficial to our business model, there are certain drawbacks to being a virtual company. Chief among these are the decreased opportunity for face-to-face interaction and the inability of all Harkcon associates, including management, supervisors, project leads, etc., to easily:
Communicate up, down and across the company
Build personal/professional relationships
Improve interpersonal skills
Share ideas and expertise
Form cohesive teams
We quickly realized that, in order to be successful as a virtual company while remaining true to our Guiding Principles and maintaining a people-centric culture, we had to identify ways to overcome these obstacles.
If you would like to contact the author of this blog, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and reference the title, "How to Tell if a Virtual Company is Right for You."
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