How virtual can your organisation get?

The answer, based on research recently completed by Doug Washburn and I, entirely.

With the help of Christine Perkett, President and founder of PerkettPR — an organisation of all virtual employees — we studied the IT infrastructure, productivity, and green benefits of PerkettPR's last ten years as an organisation reliant on geographically scattered workers and reliable remote access to systems and information.

True to the topic's virtual focus, the entire idea began with a virtual exchange. I was initially intrigued by a Tweet that Christine submitted to her 12,000+ user following on Twitter, pondering the green effects and savings her company had garnered over the past ten years as a virtual organisation.

Some of the findings in the document centre on what seem, in Perkett's opinion, like common sense, but aren't always readily apparent to workers or to organizations:

  • Creating a standard for computing and mobile device configuration is critical, especially when, as with users, all IT support is remote.
  • Centralised administrative functions are also key; despite the lack of a physical office, an operations staff can help with streamlining processes as simple as ordering office supplies, which can stymie a virtual workforce and sap valuable time.

For all of the standardisation, Perkett is not merely a virtual organisation, but a profitable and productive model of one as well, the company has found:

  • Virtual workers are more productive; time savings from not commuting — coupled with flexible working hours — leads PerkettPR staff to be 50% - 75% more productive based on analysis compared to traditional, commuting office workers.
  • Virtual workers are greener; the company has calculated its CO2 savings at 4.4 tons of Carbon Dioxide per year, the equivalent of running 33 laptops 24x7x365!

The best practice document, published this week on the Forrester website - and featured in a PerkettPR blog post - includes a series of checklists and workbooks outlining critical elements for green companies, virtual organization, and remote workers. You can check out the full document here.

As always your thoughts and comments about your organization's virtual workplace successes, experiments — and even failures — are encouraged.

By Chris Silva

Check out Chris' research


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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