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OPERATIONS

When to Go Unvirtual

Reluctantly turning telecommuters back into office workers

Graham Smith

Mike Sappington, CEO of gloStream, has had to recall virtual workers to the office.

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gloStream was founded five years ago as a virtual medical records company, selling software to doctors' offices. The approach worked well; costs were low, and salespeople had no choice but to be out in the field. But last year, Mike Sappington decided it was time to take the company physical. Here, he explains why.

"We've gotten too big to be a virtual company. By the end of the year, we'll have 100 employees in the U.S. and another 100 in India. Setting up a conference call or arranging everyone's schedules for a meeting started to take an enormous amount of time. Face-to-face collaboration is essential when you want to get something done quickly in a large organization. That said, I'm doing this reluctantly. Our people enjoy working virtually, and we want to maintain the culture that we built. We're still going to use all the technology we used before, and we're continuing to be flexible about work schedules. Some folks are expected to come into the office every day to collaborate. But if you want to leave at 3 o'clock to pick your kid up from school, I understand."

Last updated: Apr 1, 2010




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