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A Key Value of Virtual: Attract and Retain the Best Talent (Anywhere) in the World

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By Kim Shepherd, CEO
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer


There’s a lot of buzz these days about virtual workforces, and I’m always happy to add my voice. The reality, however, is that the corporate landscape is slow to change. I guess Telecommuting Tuesday is a step in the right direction, but it’s just a toe in the water. If you want to realize the full value of virtual, you have to do a cannonball in the deep end.

Yes, there is value in virtual, way beyond the perks of wearing pajamas all day. For one thing, you gain even more visibility into performance and profitability because you’ll need best-in-class technology and systems. Get the details on this and more in my white paper, “Overcoming Virtualophobia: Or How We All Went Home and Became a Better Company”

Another reason, and the focus of this blog, is that virtual allows you to attract and retain the best talent in the world — anywhere in the world. I’ve got some great examples of how being 100% virtual has brought a whole new level of freedom to the Decision Toolbox (DT) team:

  • Our Accounting/HR Assistant works six months of the year from on board a clipper ship in Connecticut, and the other six months from the jungles of Costa Rica. She is also looking into spending time, including working, on a Coboat excursion — an 82-foot sailing catamaran with satellite connectivity designed for “digital nomads and entrepreneurs.”
  • Our Controller is considering doing the same thing for an extended period in the Aegean (where do I sign up?).
  • A member of our senior leadership team fought cancer and today is cancer free. However, every 18 months she needs a transfusion. A couple of weeks ago she participated in the leadership team’s weekly conference call from the clinic during her transfusion.
  • Our former Director of Engineering fell in love with a woman from Poland while working with DT. His beloved ran into delays getting a visa, so he moved to Poland for several months and worked from there.
  • Our Director of Recruitment Quality and Client Engagement is married to a naval officer. While the family lives in Dallas, her husband recently was posted to Hawaii for several months. She packed up the kids to be right there with him.
  • Our former Chief Growth Officer’s wife’s career took her to Paris for three months, he went with her and never missed a beat.
  • Several years ago DT’s Vice President of Creative became pregnant. She and her husband decided to move to New Zealand, where he grew up, so they could take advantage of extended family support and love. When she called me to submit her resignation, I asked, “Why not work from there?” Soon DT had an “office” in Auckland.

Here’s a new best practice in attracting and retaining talent: be smart and hire the best talent, but don’t get stupid when the talent wants to color outside the lines. Keep things flexible — you don’t want to give people a reason to leave! It works for us: in DT’s weekly email News Flash, we recognize employment anniversaries, and in the 9/11/2015 edition, we recognized one employee with 12 years at DT, one with 10 years, one with 9, one with 5, three with 4, and one with 3 years. Every one of them has a story about why they love working virtually.

Remember the freedom and flexibility of the 1990s, at companies like Google and Apple? At DT we’ve taken that to the next level. Hey, working from a clipper ship trumps a foosball table in the break room any time.

Did You Enjoy This Article? Sign up for Decision Toolbox’s monthly newsletter: Inside the Box.

Inside the Box will share the secrets of life long happiness….not really, but we will provide you with some great talent acquisition articles and tips that will hopefully make your working life better. You’ll also get the inside scoop on DT.

2 Responses to “A Key Value of Virtual: Attract and Retain the Best Talent (Anywhere) in the World”

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