I bet that title has been used for some other article already, but I promise I came up with it myself.
It’s official, MWI is going virtual. After seven years of having an office we have decided to leave it. Though we love it, there are a number of reasons why having an office doesn’t seem that important or necessary.
1. Email, chat, phone, etc. Hardly any of our clients ever come to our office. We’ve closed $50K deals with clients we’ve never seen face to face and whom we probably never will. Even our clients who are 10 minutes up the road have never been to our office. If an agency has an office but no client ever visits it, does having an office matter? Well, perhaps it matters to the employees, you might say.
Yes, it is nice to get the employees together in once space. That way they can spend the day talking about the latest sporting events, philosophy, religion, politics, and the like. Seriously, my experience over the years has been that employees get more done when they work at home than when they’re in the office, and so I’ve encouraged my employees to stay at home. Even when the employees are in the office we all tend to communicate via email, chat, and such, and so what’s the point? So that it’s easier to have time-wasting meetings?
2. Task-oriented perspective. More and more employers are moving to a results-oriented workplace, because that’s what customers want and it only makes sense to let it flow throughout the entire chain. That is, many occupations do not rely on time so much as they rely on results. Or to clarify, while with some occupations time = results (i.e. food, retail, etc.) others involve little or not tie between results and time. I hire people to design and program websites. I deal with deadlines. As long as the website is done by the deadline I don’t care how many hours went into it (unless I’m paying somebody hourly). If someone can get their work done in 5 hours and take the rest of the week off it doesn’t matter to me, as long as they get their work done in good form.
Clients also seem to be caring more and more about results, and office space seems to be seen as less and less of a contributor to results.
3. Cool phones. While there are certainly other companies doing the same thing, I’ve been testing out the system from Jive Communications and have decided to take the plunge. For not too much per month I get four phones that I can plug into any network connection and be instantly networked as though I were using a PBX system in the office. The system has auto-attendant, voicemail, transferring, conference calling, and all the other features your standard phone system has at a fraction of the price. In our case it means our phone bill is going from $460 per month to about $70 per month, while the quality of the service has improved. When our clients call in we will actually look more professional than we did previously, despite ditching our office.
4. Saving $5K+ per month. Of course the greatest benefit to going virtual that I can see is how much money I’m going to save each month by getting rid of the overhead. I currently pay about $5K per month just between the lease and utilities. There are other indirectly related costs of approximately $2K that will be cut as well. If having an office truly doesn’t influence our revenues, that means I should have an extra $7K per month, and for a company that averages around $40K in monthly revenue that’s a goodly sum.
I’ll keep you posted on how the experiment works out.