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Thinking About Taking your Company Virtual? Aim for the CLOUDS!

By Kim Shepherd, CEO, Decision Toolbox

Though 2012 has just begun, smart business leaders are already looking ahead, planning where their organizations will need to be in 2015. More and more companies are realizing the benefits of transitioning to a virtual model and in a few years virtual work environments really will be the norm.

Decision Toolbox has been a 100% virtual workplace since 2003. Being pioneers in this space, we have learned firsthand that there is very much more to a virtual workplace than having employees work from home offices. We feel so strongly about this that we’ve adopted the term “cloud culture” to describe our own unique virtual environment.

Top business reasons for transitioning to the cloud include:

  • Cost savings – rather than paying for sticks and bricks, cloud culture companies can invest in the best people, tools and technology for business success
  • Scalability – cloud culture organizations can grow quickly and turn on a dime — as more talent is added, there is no need for more office space, furniture, equipment. etc.
  • Quality – in a cloud culture company, there is nothing for under performers to hide behind – there are no appearances to create distraction — it’s all about the numbers, baby!

Remember, to be successful in the cloud, you must ACT as though you have bricks and mortar and maintain the same cornerstones that are essential for success in a traditional workplace – culture, performance, appreciation, continuous improvement – and more.

Ditching the Sticks and Bricks
So you’re sold, you want to aim for the clouds, but how is this done? Before you start sending your people home to work you need to map out specifically which metrics and performance measurements you need to follow to ensure business is on track. A great way to identify your organization’s critical KPIs is to run your company remotely for a week or two. In short order, you’ll figure out exactly what metrics you need to know — is my sales force making the number of calls they need to be making, and so on. In a traditional business model, KPI’s and other metrics can get squishy. In a virtual environment, they cannot be an afterthought because they’re all you have to go on.  When you’re purely focused on the three P’s that make a company tick – performance, productivity and profit – yours will truly become a higher performing company and productivity will be off the charts.

Another critical factor for the success of your company in the clouds is your people. You must hire right. “A” players micromanage themselves better than you ever could.  They see metrics tracking as an opportunity to strut their stuff and display their results rather than as a way to be watched over by “big brother”.

Finally, the key to sustaining the three P’s in the clouds is to continually focus on and build out your culture.  Keeping people truly connected and not feeling like islands can be tricky – especially as you grow.  This is where real creativity comes in. At DT, we’re constantly adding “sticky factor” to our cloud culture. We have weekly team meetings, virtual water coolers and chat rooms, internal newsletters, unique onboarding and training processes, annual all-staff meetings – and the list goes on – all designed to keep employees connected, engaged and drinking the DT Kool-Aid.  As witnessed from our last annual all-staff meeting in Las Vegas, it is possible to build a strong unified spirit and camaraderie among people who have never actually met in person. Though our company doubled in size since our last annual meeting, the Vegas gathering was truly a love fest!

Top Five Tips for Achieving a Cloud Culture
To recap, below are five tips to building a successful cloud culture company:

1)   Lose the office – ok, that’s an obvious one

2)  Get some strong technology in place to track your metrics

3)  Hire A players who can be trusted to perform and manage themselves – keep top-grading as needed

4)  Stay focused on your culture – act as though you have sticks and bricks – get creative to keep everyone feeling connected and engaged

5)  Implement top-down leadership – this is not for the faint of heart – you need a bold, visionary leader in place who lives, eats and breathes the cloud culture

Going virtual truly is so much more than working from home. A successful transition requires a commitment to continually sharpen the saw and to aim for far more than having a virtual workplace, aim for a true cloud culture!

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