Two years in the making, November 2014 marked the launch of our initiative to be a virtually enabled team!
We have moved out of our corporate office space in Houston’s Energy Corridor and are now stretching our wings in the boundless space of working in the virtual world – any time, any place.
With employees and partners situated all over our lovely planet Earth, it only made sense to reduce our carbon footprint and embrace the flexibility that comes with working without walls. A lot of planning went in to setting the company up for this change, altering our processes and finding new systems that increased communication and tracking. Here are some of the things we have changed.
1. Using HipChat for internal communication.
Our employees are online during corporate business hours and we have a running chat going for constant communication. By linking to client sites or helpdesk tickets, we can share information, collaborate on projects and retain our water cooler discussions. We also hold daily standup meetings via HipChat to make sure everyone has the information they need for the day ahead.
2. Implementing HelpDesk for client communication.
Our new ticketing system at helpdesk.tendenci.com allows our clients to submit a request directly into the queue where any member of the team can grab the ticket and begin the dialogue. By having all requests in one place, tickets don’t get lost in one employee’s email, assistance can be shared among the team and we can spot trends that indicate where a systemic solution may be needed. Screenshots and other files can be uploaded to the tickets, too, for better communication.
3. Switching to a VoIP-based phone system.
If you are still reading, this is where we could really use your help! We are using a national VoIP vendor but have had calls dropped or not ring through. Very embarrassing. Can anyone recommend a good option for a virtual phone system? We love to talk to our clients! In the meantime, if you are having trouble reaching us over the phone, please use helpdesk.tendenci.com to ask your question so that we can reach you!
And while working in your slippers does have its advantages, sometimes you just need to meet up in person to review a project. Those of us in the Houston area still meet to collaborate as teams a couple of days a week at one of the many co-working facilities in town, such as the space at Houston Technology Center in Midtown and ShareSpace out on the East Side.
So if you drive by the old office, you won’t see our name out front as we are no longer rooted in one place. We have set up a mailbox for written correspondence at this address:
14027 Memorial Drive #177
Houston, Texas 77079-6826
And our dropbox for payments remains:
P.O. BOX 301750
Dallas, Texas 75303-1750
But as to where we are physically located, well… spread out a world map, close your eyes and point. There we are!
(This is the first of three blog posts that discusses the tools we are using as the brain can only process so much in one day. Talking about mine, not yours! We welcome any feedback on tools you have used in your virtual work environment to increase communication – the biggest hurdle we are facing a dispersed team.)