A Typical Day at the “Office” – Virtual Office, That Is!
A Typical Day at the “Office” – Virtual Office, That Is! Three Key Advantages of a Virtual Office Model For ClearEdge ClientsWatch out, clients of mine – I just returned from a run that was not only invigorating, but alsoinspiring. I came up with a new idea to drive attendance at an event one of my clients isorganizing – so I will be emailing that in a few minutes. I also thought through my game plan for aproject kickoff call that is scheduled for today – so that should go smoothly. And finally, I figuredout what was causing me to pause on a Target Account Program that I’m working on with aclient; that challenge is now resolved. All of that during 45 minutes of ―down time.‖ I wouldn’thave had the opportunity to clear my head and come up with the solutions I needed whilesimultaneously taking care of myself if ClearEdge Marketing wasn’t centered on a virtual model.Instead, I would have been scrambling to get into the office, fighting traffic and figuring outwhen in the world I was going to fit in that run!When talking with some of my colleagues about the advantages and disadvantages of workingvirtually, the pros definitely outweighed the cons. No doubt the buzz about working in a virtualmodel has skyrocketed as a result of Marissa Mayer’s recent announcement that Yahoo is movingaway from the very model that makes ClearEdge tick. For Yahoo, that just might be the rightdecision as Mayer works to turn around the company’s fortune. But for a firm like ClearEdgeMarketing, there are a myriad of advantages toworking virtually – not only for our team, but mostimportantly for our clients. That said, it’s not a modelthat works for every type of business; nor is it a modelthat works for every individual. It takes tremendousself-discipline and a great deal of trust.How do ClearEdge Clients Benefit from a VirtualWork Model?Here are three key advantages we believe our clientsgain from the ClearEdge virtual work model: 1. Access to diverse and experienced talent. The ClearEdge virtual model allows our clients access to a diverse, wildly creative and experienced talent pool. In marketing, it’s easy for teams to get stale and repetitive. With our virtual model, we work with designers from New York City, Florida and Wisconsin; and our writers come from across the country as well – literally from California to Connecticut and down to Florida and Texas. We even have one team member who is based in the UK and another working temporarily in Korea! Because we are not solely focused on building a team at our headquarters in Chicago, we have access to a broader talent pool with varying experiences. When we combine the team’s multiple perspectives, something that would be difficult to do in a traditional work setting, we are able to offer a unique set of insights and consequently, outstanding ideas for our clients. Additionally, every member of the ClearEdge team has deep experience working in the marketing field, the majority of which has been spent in corporate marketing. Our team’s experience runs the gamut from vice presidents and marketing directors to creative directors and web developers. The people who choose to work with ClearEdge Marketing have ―been there and done that.‖ Knowing what it takes to get a job done–and done exceptionally well–is a byproduct of the experience possessed by each
member of our team. In fact, one of our clients shared through our client satisfaction survey that, ―ClearEdge Marketing is competitive in terms of the value—their product is more customized, so the value is outstanding. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.‖ 2. Remarkable productivity. Our clients have come to expect high levels of productivity from the ClearEdge team, which is made possible in large part because of the virtual model in which we work. The time spent travelling to and from the office in a more traditional setting and the gamut of typical office interruptions are not factors at ClearEdge. Studies also show less productivity slow down due to sickness and employee turnover in a virtual model. In fact, our turnover rate is virtually non-existent with only two members of our team over the past nearly seven years since we were founded choosing other paths – resulting in fluid, consistent deliverables for our clients. Along with higher retention rates, there are also studies that show virtual model employees tend to clock more hours than the traditional worker- again, leading to greater productivity. Our team attests to that truth – often getting online during evening hours to see if a client from a different time zone has responded to a question or sending a client an email so they have what they need at the start of their next business day. It’s not even that we feel we have to go that extra mile on a regular basis; it’s just part of our fiber! 3. Opportunity to work with happy marketing partners. Per my very first point – at ClearEdge, we have flexibility. If we want to take a break to volunteer in our child’s classroom, take the dogs for a walk or attend a yoga class—then spend the rest of the day (and very often the evening) taking care of client projects, we are welcome to. Our team is trusted to get the job done and exceed client expectations in the process. Knowing that we have the flexibility to take care of personal needs makes us happy and more eager to work harder for our clients. That said, when push comes to shove, client needs do take priority and might from time to time require our team to be flexible as well and save the run or yoga class for another day. Again, flexibility is the key here, all the way around.Along with the pros of working in a virtual model, there are no doubt cons. My ClearEdgeteammates cited things like drawing the line between work and home – where one ends and theother begins (which from a client’s perspective could be viewed as an advantage!), loss ofspontaneous collaboration at the ―water cooler,‖ and ability to read reactions face to face. Whilewe all work daily to overcome shortcomings like these, the advantages surpass any disadvantagesand result in a healthy, creative, committed work environment for the entire ClearEdge team.We are also fortunate that our president, Leslie Vickrey, brings groups of our team together afew times a year for company gatherings and time to bond in person. We also hold bi-weeklymeetings where we share happenings, plus we recognize one employee per quarter with the―Edge Award,‖ which recognizes an employee for being the best all-around team player, mostreliable, team cheerleader, most creative thinker, most likely to do whatever it takes, andwonderful communication style.We wish Marissa Mayer and Yahoo the best as they move to a more traditional work environment.For ClearEdge, we’ll continue focusing on the benefits we share with our clients by sticking to ourvirtual model, always working to make the model stronger!