Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Going Green, Virtually

I first published this post on the OrganizedWisdom blog here, but I thought I'd share it on my personal blog too:

One of the best decisions we've made since we launched OrganizedWisdom Health two and a half years ago was to build a green company and get rid of our brick and mortar office.

We call it "Going Green, Virtually."

That's right. No office. No commute. No paper. We don't require team members to punch a time clock. No spending wasted hours in traffic driving to work just to sit in a desk much farther away from one's home and family.

And as a result of Going Green Virtually, the benefits have been enormous. In fact, we believe it's one of our key ingredients to our rapid growth, dramatic increase in productivity, agile innovation cycles, and team member happiness.

Since we officially made this transition to Going Green Virtually over a year ago, we have debated the merits of our decision many times. We've often asked, would we be more productive if we were all sitting in the same room everyday? Would our team members be better off commuting to and fro? Would our ideas be better? Would we attract better talent? Would we have more or less expenses? Would our business be more successful? Would our product be better? Would we be more happy?

The answer to every question each time we assess our operations is simply, no.

The fact is, on the rare occasions when we do need an office, we still have access to great space and conference rooms because anytime (usually once a month) we can use one of our investor's offices. We use this space for strategic brainstorms, to white board in person, or to host investors or interview new team members.

We're not only proud to be building our company this way, but we believe that there are countless benefits to growing our company this way. We see the way we are building OrganizedWisdom as the wave of the future in terms of how start-ups will be founded and great companies grown. And it's becoming clear that much larger companies are going to have to learn to operate this way too. For all of you entrepreneurs out there, here are 20 major benefits we've seen so far by Going Green Virtually.

1. Access to the world's very best talent pool: We can hire our team members from anywhere that has great Internet access. This essentially means we can hire someone in the mountains, the woods, and cities and towns large and small. This means we can hire globally. We are not confined by the city our main office is in to find the best talent. We don't force people to relocate when they join our team. We don't have boundaries for where we can hire. We just work to hire the very best people, period.

2. Increased productivity: We don't waste time monitoring what time people come into an office. Our technology, collaboration tools, and goals are designed to focus on productivity, not merely time spent. Our system gets better because it's not about how much time something takes, it is about how efficient and productive it is.

3. Metrics based goals: Because we are productivity focused, we are forced to make sure every goal is measurable. When every goal is measurable, then chances are it is more clear what needs to be done. This make it easier to keep your strategy and team focused on the goals that really drive the health of the business.

4. Less interruptions = less wasted time: Offices breed politics, disruptions, excess meetings, etc. We still have group chats in Campfire and on IM, but we've noticed many of the distractions that come with office life are replaced by things like being home when you kids get home from school or being able to make yourself lunch at home. Being virtual replaces the negative interruptions with meaningful interruptions.

5. No commute: This saves everyone of our team members probably at least 10 hours a week and lots of money on transportation, parking, and food costs. People can use this time to spend with their family, get more rest, on hobbies, and even on being more productive.

6. Flex time: We let our team members work when they are most productive and set their own schedule. We monitor production, not a time clock. We trust our team members to do a great job and as a result they do an even better job.

7. Huge cost savings: There's huge cost savings for the company AND for our team members. They don't have to spend money on gas, tolls, parking, less car maintenance, food away from home, after school daycare, etc. We don't have to spend money on expensive office space, chairs, desks, equipment, energy, and on and on. To us it's a no-brainer.

8. Rapid innovation cycles: Because we use collaboration technologies and new communications tools we are able to work in smaller teams and innovate more rapidly. There is no big bureaucracy to slow us down.

9. No more meetings: We don't do meetings. We publish goals and metrics. We have an ongoing group chat. We build a team run knowledge base and community forums which get smarter with every input. We don't travel to meetings and take our team members away from doing what really matters: building a great service to help more people. We'd rather spend our time doing and less time talking about doing. Again, because we are metrics focused, people already know what to do.

10. No searching for office space: For those of you entrepreneurs in San Fran or New York you know how much wasted time and energy goes into finding and setting up an office. Imagine never having to do this again. Imagine not ever growing out of your office space. Pretty great dream huh. It's a reality when you go green. It also enables us to focus on innovation rather than operations.

11. Ability to scale quickly: Because we depend on bits, not location, we can scale up or down instantly. This makes us nimble, efficient, and ready for growth and opportunities within minutes not months.

12. Diversity: Our team members come from all over. They live in the community we serve: all over the US. Often time, especially with media, Internet and content companies there's an unintentional bias influenced by the might of a city like New York or San Fran. Growing up in Iowa, I know that often times the coasts just don't get it:-) So we're happy we get to bake in a much more diverse perspective and cultural outlook into our product then that of one particular region.

13. Global operations: Again, because we are not constrained by a brick and mortar office, we can leverage resources from overseas whenever it makes sense.

14. Forced to learn new technology: We are an Internet and technology company. By being forced to practice what we preach, we are early adopters at every turn. This keeps us ahead of the pack and helps us keep finding new ways to save time, energy, money and increase productivity, quality, and team happiness.

15. Tap the power of part-timers: Lots of people don't want to or can't work full-time jobs, but they have an interest and passion in working part-time. We get to work with these people too.

16. A 24 hour work cycle: The web is open 24 hours a day and so are we. We don't have the same constraints because our team members are in multiple time zones already.

17. More time with friends and family: One of the best advantages to building this type of business is the ability to be there for your friends and family more.

18. Happier employees: Because our team members don't have to commute, relocate, waste time on the train, can work when they are most productive, and can spend more time with their families, we have happier employees. Happier employees = more loyal and productive team members.

19. We're Going Green Virtually! We're trying to do our part to help the environment and our team members anyway we can. People don't have to buy gas, we don't use paper, and we don't have a big office to waste energy on.Let's get thousands of companies to do this!

20. Share your thoughts: If you've gone green already please post your feedback on what's worked (or hasn't worked)...

Technology has truly changed everything over the past few years. We feel blessed that we get the opportunity to build our business this way, and proud to share our wisdom as we grow and evolve.

We hope you'll consider Going Green Virtually soon too.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Some Exciting News To Share

For those of you who know me well, then you know a major part of my life is dedicated to the success of building a company I co-founded and love called OrganizedWisdom Health.

I'm thrilled to share some big news. We just raised a round of financing from ETF Venture Funds and several other strategic angels which will help us scale and grow in a big way.

Read the story in TechCrunch here.

Thanks to all of my friends and family who continue to support me everyday. It means a lot to me and keeps me going. To be sure, the life of a serial entrepreneur is never dull, but thanks to your support mine is usually fun and always worthwhile.

Now please go tell all of your friends and family to start using OrganizedWisdom Health! All feedback welcome.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pictures of Street Art in New York City

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Only in New York City


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Sad Memorial on Manhattan Street

Every time I walk by this makeshift memorial near the Maritime Hotel it makes me sad, and a bit angry at the crazy drivers in New York City. Imagine living your whole life, 82 years, and then to be struck by a car crossing the street. I've never met this woman, but I think about her often.
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Visit the Leo Kesting Gallery

There's a great new art gallery in the Meat Packing District called The Leo Kesting Gallery. Stop in when you get a chance. David Kesting and John Leo are fun, friendly, and breathing new life and humor into the neighborhood.
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