How can I keep my virtual company connected?
BY Rudy Karsan
Human Resources mentor Rudy Karsan responds to the following question from an inc.com user: I am the founder and CEO of a Web development firm. My current challenge is that I'm going to be a freshman in college and all my employees will be at various universities as well. I have already set up an intranet account to "get everybody on the same page" and plan on using a Web-based conference/presentation solution. But there is no real office space where my employees can interact. I don't want them to feel cut off, leading to poor morale and low productivity. What should I do?
Rudy Karsan's response: As companies become more virtual, the question of keeping employees engaged in and feeling in touch with the company vision gets more challenging. A number of companies have resorted to methods that include the following:
More off-site meetings
More live meetings among various employee groups
More pressure on the leaders to have "face time" with all employees
Since I do not know the size of your organization nor over what geographic areas your employees are distributed, I would suggest the following additional steps:
Create a schedule that ensures that the entire organization meets once a quarter or once every six months at a mutually convenient location. As college students, you may be able to obtain meeting space within your universities at a minimum cost.
Set up a second tier of meetings so that your employees on various campuses meet at least once a month. The location should be one where conference calling is possible, so you can participate in that conversation even from a distance.
Create a virtual office on your intranet. This can take the place of the conference room, the training room, or even the water cooler in a conventional office. Such areas are designed for continued discussions, questions, and posting of information that needs to be shared. It also gives your company that connected feeling over the Web.
Have a weekly conference call. You can set one up through a phone company. Once a routine and rhythm have been established for the call, that will become part of the culture of your organization.
Connect with the key employees within your organization over the phone at least once a week, if not more frequently.
These suggestions would apply even if your organization did not consist primarily of college students.