Remote work, virtual firms is all the rage now, right? Just like a lot of things, like the Cloud was. Now, virtual is really cool, and everybody wants to become a virtual firm. But, as my partner Julie always asks me, do you want that, do you want a virtual firm? But also, do you want what that means? A virtual firm is a different, it’s a different model and a setup than a brick and mortar firm. We’ve been through this process for about five years now, building a virtual firm. There’s a lot to what it means to build a virtual firm, and I just want to talk about one concept to remote and virtual practices.
Again, we’re a virtual firm, and virtual firm is different than remote firms. Virtual firms means we don’t exist, really. We only exist in the minds, and over the cameras. We’re virtual, there’s not a place you can go. Whereas, remote is typically referencing an office where people remote into an office. Nobody’s remoting in to anything in our firm, they just … we all exist in the location that we’re in.
But, that kind of setup means people, team members specifically, and clients to a smaller degree, come to you with a set of beliefs. They typically come to you with whatever context of their work is something they have experienced in the past, so they come to you with the context of maybe going to an office. Going to an office has its own benefits, really. When you go to an office you’re not confused and distracted from things in your home. You’re not acting like you would in your home. Often times you dress differently, you act differently, you’re with different people. But, when you’re at home you’re much more relaxed, you dress differently, there are different habits that you can abide by. And, people come to work in a virtual firm, and to a smaller degree, if they’re remote with a firm that has an office. People come to work with that relaxed mentality, typically.
You just have to talk to them about that. Talk to them about their beliefs, and sometimes they don’t even realize they have those beliefs, but you’ll find a lot of their personalities, and a lot of the patterns with which they work, can be pretty tricky to overcome for them when you don’t let them know up front that virtual work, remote work, is different than work in an office. It’s a completely different thing, and you have to vet through those beliefs.
It’s also true that team members that come to remote work, or virtual firms, actually the people in their lives, in their family actually have some influence and distraction around how they work too. That is really, really common. You’ll run into that, and sometimes you have to address those things. Of course, you can’t address other people’s family members, but you have to address your team members so that they can do the work of addressing the beliefs of the place where they live, their family. So, homes are intimate places and you have to understand, that’s going to be the context of a work environment for a team member. And it’s a different work environment than in an office where there are no distractions, and it’s obvious that the whole setup of that world at an office, is all about work.
Well at home, that’s not true. That whole context can be a lot of different things. It can be parties, it can be families, it can be alone time, it can be relax time, it can be work time. All of those contexts can get confusing to a team member at times, so you have to help them stay focused, and to not get distracted. And, hold them accountable to those healthy practices at home. Because, running a virtual firm, or allowing team members to be remote is awesome. I mean, it’s amazing. But as my partner would say, do you want what that means? It just means you’ve got to step up the level with which you teach and train, and help people overcome contexts that they don’t even know they have about work.
If you’re doing that and you’re making that move, go after it and do it. It’s a great thing for your team and your clients, because you can serve anybody anywhere, with any team anywhere. It just means you get something, and you’ve got to work through the beliefs and contexts of your team to help them be healthy, move work fast, be efficient, stay focused, and really care for your clients well.
I hope that helps talk about remote work, virtual firms, and how those are different, and how you can embrace what it means to build that kind of firm. We’ll see you, take care.