QUESTION: Hi Mike. We are a small 1 and ½ person firm working virtually from 2 home offices. I attend networking events, face-to-face client meetings at their offices, and conduct candidate interviews across the city at various venues. We are looking to hire 1 to 2 new recruiters and ideally would like them to be working from their home offices as well. We would supplement this with regular team meetings, virtually and face to face. Do you know of any other firms that have successfully grown using virtual offices? What are your thoughts on the positives and the negatives? What are the potential pitfalls and how to best circumvent them? Thanks in advance. – Sharon, Sydney, Australia
ANSWER: That is a great question. Yes, I have seen it. We have clients doing it more and more. At TheRecruiterU.com we are a 6-person firm, all of us virtual. I had a salesperson for a while based in San Diego, so across the country from me, Sharon, a 6-hour flight so we did not see each other that often. But I trained her via Skype. I am now using Zoom for our smaller group videoconferencing. It is an incredibly easy tool and easier to use than Skype if you are going to have a group team meeting because people’s faces pop up when they are on the call. I have been a participant in Zoom groups and when I met the people face to face for the first time there was already a sense of pretty deep community.
If you look at what you would do and what you know about hiring in an office, it holds true. No matter what, this is where people fall down in brick and mortar, is they do not set really good expectations, and if they do, they do not often have an accountability system to follow through with it. Whether it is virtual or in an office, the failure is the same.
I find people get more done working autonomously because they do not have the constant interruptions from other people that do not want to be really working on the phone stopping by their cube or their office to interrupt them. I also found that in training and developing people I was able to get more done because they could not just stick their head in my office with random questions and distract me. We would have set times to talk or if it was something they really needed help with, I would get a text chat or something like that.
The other positives, technology now, we use 8×8.com as a phone system. There is also Spectrum VOIP and a couple others that can automatically record phone calls. What I teach is listen to the recorded calls of your recruiters. It is one of the best training vehicles. I do not know what the telecom laws in Australia are, but you can set aside time to listen to the calls and then critique them later. That is what I do with my sales team now. The calls go through our system. In our state as long as one party knows they are being recorded it is legal. My salespeople knows she is being recorded. We do not use it for legal reasons. We just use it for training or binding contracts. So there is a ton positive.
The negative would largely be you, Sharon, not holding them accountable. But that could occur almost as easily in a brick and mortar environment. I know it is a huge trip, but if there is any way you could make it to one of our US or London intensives this year, we could help you develop your team. I had somebody come in from Australia with a week’s notice to Chicago and said after the first morning it was well worth the flight.
Her actual testimonial is up on TheRecruiterU.com/Rich. She flew out of Sydney, which is close to where you are at, all the way to Chicago. You might want to consider that because I am going to spend a whole day on setting up structures to set and manage expectations with people and then also what the follow through is going to be and how to do it in brick and mortar and how to do it virtual. If you like what you have read here, you might really enjoy investing a couple days and surrounding yourself with it so you do it the right way from the beginning.