At its inception in 2001, PeopleG2 started out as an office-based company. However, in 2008, founder and chief executive Chris Dyer, decided to transition into a virtual company to accommodate a growing workforce and surmount challenging financial pressures introduced by the recession. According to Michelle Rafter, in “Employees told to go home – and work,” a small office in Brea, California remains for a handful of staff who value having a physical office. However, the rest of the staff, comprised of researchers, sales and customer service representatives, and administrative personnel, work as a virtual team.
This arrangement has worked out so well that Chris Dyer never looked back and, today, PeopleG2 serves as a testament to how companies can successfully switch from brick and mortar to virtual. Just recently, Flexjobs featured them in “26 Virtual Companies That Thrive on Remote Work.” How did Dyer and his team make such a successful transition?
In offering tips and strategies Mike Bankhead, Strategic Specialist at PeopleG2, advises, “Understand that your culture will take time to evolve, and will not be the same moving from a brick and mortar company to a virtual company. A strong culture is possible, but the key is to have leadership that helps to set expectations, but also understands the need for employees to have autonomy in their work and to be trusted to accomplish the tasks assigned to them.” In addition to the cultural transition are technical requirements. Bankhead adds, “There also needs to be strong internal communication tools used (intranet/chat platform, conference calls) so that teams/departments still function as teams/departments and accountability happens across the board.”
On another note, Bankhead offers the following forecast with regard to establishment of more virtual companies in the future:
A virtual business definitely has advantages, such as no issues with property leasing and no commute times for employees. With no commute time, this can increase the hours actually worked by employees, rather than sitting in traffic and it can also be more motivating for an employee to simply start work rather than sit in rush hour traffic for 2 hours prior to sitting down to work. Unfortunately, the cultural shift from a brick and mortar company to a virtual company is not fathomable for some. The idea of this type of culture change, coupled with the “how to manage it” aspects tend to make people more likely to stay in their current business setup rather than make a move to a virtual environment.
In “Challenges of Brick and Mortar Companies vs. Virtual Companies,” Chris Dyer notes other challenges to virtual companies such as the lack of face-to-face communication. Dyer explains, “This can make communication difficult, and brings up issues of employee accountability. Another matter is time zone differences. This can present complications, and takes some adjustment of work and life habits so that this issue is eliminated.”
When asked about how working in a virtual company impacts work-life, Bankhead states, “Working for a virtual company provides a more solid work-life balance. The key, however, is to not make your home the office all the time. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day.” Highlighting the importance of trust and handling the increased autonomy in a responsible manner, he says, “Having autonomy in your work environment also means it’s easier to step away to attend a child’s school activity, for example, but come back and complete the tasks you need to complete for that day. This takes trust on the part of leadership, but the end result is what shows the work is bring accomplished.”
Companies aspiring to dispense with commercial real estate might find it helpful to look to companies like PeopleG2. One major incentive for embracing this idea is to enhance efforts to recruit and retain younger employees who’re born into this fast-paced, technological world as Bankhead notes in “Virtual Employment Is Trending.” Hence, although the number of virtual companies is unlikely to rise considerably in the near future, there are still significant incentives for pioneering employers to attempt this transition and help other employers, by providing critical information about overcoming obstacles, to succeed in doing likewise.
Founded in 2001, PeopleG2 is a leading human capital due diligence service provider leveraging proprietary processes and tools to serve clients’ risk management needs and support their most strategic people-related decisions.
PeopleG2 offers a broad array of intelligence-gathering, due diligence and risk management solutions and services to support critical human capital decisions and transactions. Clients partner with us for both traditional and customized Employment Screening, Executive Screening, Business Screening, Tenant Screening and more.