More tips for running a virtual firm

Michelle Chase, managing director of all-virtual, 10-employee firm Perkett PR, shares more of her experiences and best practices when it comes to running a company with no central office.

Many managers still subscribe to the "If I can't see them, how do I know they're working?" school of thought. Yet Chase and other remote and telework proponents say communication- and results- are key. If your remote employees are delivering their work load on time and well, then you've got nothing to worry about. Yet you need to set them up for success. Clearly defining expectations and deadlines is key. Chase says she tries to respond to all e-mails or calls within two hours in order to prevent holding up co-workers or clients up on their progress.

Here are other suggestions:

  • Check in with clients once a month to ensure they're satisfied. If they're not, you'll know.
  • Review your employees regularly. Chase says Perkett reviews employees every six months and compares their current and previous reviews to gauge an employee's progress.
  • Communicate with peers. Talking to co-workers, managers or others involved with the employee on a day-to-day basis can also help you gauge how a person is performing.
  • Hold bi-weekly company meetings. Chase says her firm sets an agenda and reviews all current projects, as well as other topics such as HR issues. They also distribute a regular newsletter to share tips, links to industry-related articles and other information.
  • Set per-project weekly internal team meetings and brainstorming sessions. Chase says the company uses a conference call service, as well as WebEx online conferencing, to virtually review projects.
  • Use communication tools. Perkett PR uses Outlook to track deadlines and instant messaging to stay in real-time contact with employees. It also uses hosted customer relationship management software from Salesnet to coordinate who's contacting new companies to drum up business and avoid overlap.

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