By Chris Rising
At Rising, we embrace technology that allows us to work smarter, not harder. In this digital age, so long as there’s an internet connection, you can work from anywhere in the world. We see the effects of that in the workplace as offices evolve more into flexible meetup spaces for collaboration and presentations, compared to the traditional 9-5, fixed routine of having to ‘go to work’. While telecommuting can certainly complement a company’s existing culture and cast a wider net in attracting candidates, too much of it can actually do the opposite. If a company relies solely on telecommuting employees, there is no company culture – and ultimately every company needs cultures to succeed.
Running a virtual company, in my opinion, is not effective. Here’s why: Creative collisions are essential to company culture, and those can only happen around other people, whether it’s running into them at lunch, chatting or coffee, or in an impromptu brainstorm session. Some of the best ideas are formed when you’re spending time with coworkers, more often than when you’re at home alone in a room. Working by yourself gets old quickly. Humans by nature are social creatures, to varying degrees of course. But we have an inherent psychological need to be around others. It facilitates the exchange of creative ideas and energy, making room to receive feedback on your work, and for those “a-ha!” moments.
Here are a few effective ways that Rising incorporates in-person connections in the age of telecommuting:
Monthly in-person company meetings
Once a month, our entire staff meets at the office to hear company updates. Anyone who can’t make it videoconferences themselves in so that we can all see each other.
Collaborative weekly lunches
Every Wednesday, Rising hosts collaborative lunches. While attendance isn’t mandatory, every team member, including Rising property managers who typically work at buildings that aren’t nearby (i.e. Calabasas, Long Beach, etc.), join us for a complimentary lunch.
“Lunch and Learns.”
Approximately every other month, Rising coordinates lunch and learns. a companywide lunch that brings everyone together to learn about different facets of the business, like sustainability (LEED, Energy Star), telecommunications, and so forth.
Asana is our web-based project management tool that keeps us on track with everything we’re working on. Whether it’s an acquisition we’re underwriting or a TI buildout we’re managing, Asana can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection, giving our team the freedom to work wherever they need to.
As most commercial real estate professionals know, VTS is where we track leases and stacking plans. Our brokers are out on the field everyday, and while we have weekly calls with them, VTS allows our team to see the progress of a specific tenant moving into a building at anytime.
Yardi is our accounting system that allows us to process invoices, ensure payments get to the vendors, and creating and managing budgets. This tool can be accessed by our team anywhere they want, and securely, allowing the accounting team to work remotely, just as anyone else on our team can.
As you can see, none of these are major time commitments. The goal is to increase productivity, not hinder it. Meeting face-to-face once a month is a great way to stay connected and strengthen company culture. Even in the age of telecommuting, nothing replaces in-person connections.