How To Run A Virtual Company

For the last fifteen years I have worked virtually with clients and teams all over the world. Even before then, I ran a company listed on NASDAQ without a desk or office (my current office can be seen above).

So, in light of the current drive to home working, I hope that some benefits of my experience might be useful.

Structure - becomes even more important when your team or company is virtualised. In small companies there often is no structure so mini teams need to be created. In larger organisations there tend to be hierarchies plus project groupings. Translating and transferring these online and instigating the right tools and communications protocols is the main challenge.

Tools - talking of which... a large company will have formal systems that you should be able to access from home. Other companies will need to standardise on their tools: Asset management (eg the F drive or Dropbox), Task Management, eg Wunderlist or Trello, collaborative software, eg Teams or Slack, Comms, eg Zoom or Skype. And email still rules the roost.

Process - look to replace physical working practices with virtual ones. Hold a ‘scrum’ or call at the beginning of every day to discuss the TV from the day before and anything else you might discuss when physically together.

Evaluation - working physically or virtually are just states of mind: what counts are the outputs. This is your opportunity to look at your business more carefully and to break down corporate objectives into team and then individual objectives. 

Deliver Platform 2 becomes: Update UX, Add SSO, Improve Functionality and each of those can be further broken down into tasks for the dev team. Equally, £1m of sales can be broken down into sales channels and targets for each.

In fact, the great thing about creating a virtualised organisation is that it forces CEOs and managers to carefully analyse their contribution to a business’ goals and then plan carefully and introduce accountable metrics. By definition, your business needs more structure.

Then, who cares if Simon from Sales is spending two days a week playing golf if he’s smashing his sales figures and has a pipeline to match ?

Indeed, remote working is an opportunity to re-invent and re-think an organisation, potentially with great advantages.