After more than eleven years with an exclusively virtual business, we’ve heard all of the questions.
But as time has passed, it has served to answer a lot of those questions as more and more companies make the move from brick-and-mortar business models to virtual ones – and successfully.
But there’s rarely a clear path for a pioneer so even as we remained steadfast and confident in – what was then – a radical and revolutionary business model, the naysayers and doubting Thomases abounded.
Thankfully, however, we’ve always managed to view objections as an opportunity to educate and, selfishly, reaffirm what we already believed to be true: Virtual employment far outpaces a physical one – from the bottom line to the culture to the results – everything.
So here, we’ll share BELAY’s virtual business model’s FAQs – the questions we’re asked again and again, allowing us to preach from the (virtual) pulpit to extol the virtues of virtual workforces.
Did you ever have a brick-and-mortar office?
And as an addendum to that question, we’re also asked if we made our decision based on a vision or a necessity.
The truth is, it started with a little of both.
In about three years, we grew from two employees to 30 virtual employees.
Admittedly, our founders thought – at least initially – that legitimate companies get office spaces. They thought we should, too. So, they went searching for office space only to come full circle and realize we were exactly where we were meant to be – at home.
Our greatest realization at that time? An office does not legitimize a business – and the proof is in our success, that of every other virtual company, and the fact that 36 percent of the United States workforce is freelance.
Most people have 100 square feet in their home to designate as a home office and, because of that, we could double our workforce tomorrow and have zero concerns about real estate.
How do the dollars and cents of a virtual business compare to a physical one?
We get this question a lot. Let’s put it this way: Compared to a brick-and-mortar operation, we save $200,000 a year being virtual.
When you look at the cost per square foot in Atlanta and then everything that goes in it – desk, clean drinking water, heat, fun things like ping-pong tables, supplies, and security systems – it adds up. And quickly.
And then the employees incur expenses, like gas, dry cleaning, and more.
Don’t believe me? Here are some cold, hard facts.
- Companies can save as much as $11,000 per employee just by letting them work from home half of the time.
- Virtual workers actually log more work hours – as many as 1.4 dates more each month, in fact.
- The average employee who works exclusively from home will save about $4,000 per year in commuting costs, coffee, lunches and a professional wardrobe.
Need more? Try the Employee Burden Cost Calculator to find the true cost of every office employee.
How do you establish a sense of community and culture without four walls?
Shared vision, not shared spaces, creates a culture. By instilling a sense of belonging and ensuring they identify with the greater mission and values of the company, your culture can survive your people not spending not a lot of time together. Further, they can spend time with each other at Starbucks or our co-work location.
We like to think of ours as a culture of happiness.
How do you know your employees are getting work done if you can’t see them?
Much of the hesitancy and fear stem from the old corporate dogma that says, ‘If I can’t see you, I can’t control you.’
That lack of trust and suspicion can quickly erode whatever sense of community, trust and culture you’ve so carefully nurtured. To this, we advise that if you’re a person who is always suspicious, you should have an office.
It’s not about time; it’s about results. The hours are immaterial.
How do you establish, maintain and reinforce processes and expectations?
It starts with clear expectations – which starts with communication – a lot of it – and a chain of command so people don’t get lost. It’s important to us that no one is left wondering if they’re moving the dial for the company.
And here’s the kicker: If you get a meaningful paycheck, find purpose in what you do, and you can work from your front porch, there’s no going back. Any hopes of you ever going back to a cubicle are ruined.
As we hire, we have a checklist of the eight traits we look for in a virtual employee ideal for BELAY. From being results-oriented to valuing working from home, to being exceptionally communicative, to being organized, we have a discrete and granular list of non-negotiables for who we hire or bring on as a contractor.
Listen. This is the bottom line: It’s not for everybody. We’ve created a meaningful culture of people who love working here – without being encumbered by an office in order to create a meaningful connection with folks.
If that sounds like you, too, we welcome you to join us – because we’re hiring!