How can I keep my virtual company connected?
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
- Conference calls
- 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.
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