The event 360 blog
A Virtual Office is Our Reality
By Taylor Delaney and Devin Trezise
If there’s anything we’ve learned from working at Event 360, it’s that on-event communication is crucial. But what about our virtual communication when we aren’t face-to-face? Since roughly 90% of our workforce is either on the road or working remotely, Event 360 employees need to have a good grasp of all things virtual to make their teammates and their own working life easier. Becoming an Event 360 employee means you quickly become acquainted with Skype for Business, SharePoint, Outlook, and the trusty ol’ landline telephone. We also know that more and more companies are working in some sort of virtual set-up so we’d like to share a few tricks of the trade to make everyone feel right at home while they’re away from the office.
There are many, many outlets for various means of communication so let’s just start with the basics:
- Email “Can you email that to me?” “CC me, please!” “Did you check your email?” Email, email, email… it’s pretty safe to say that we use email constantly. Emailing is the main mode of communication between everyone in the company. Whether it’s setting up meetings, reminders, looking for guidance, reserving a conference line or simply saying “hello”, you’ll do it through email.
- Skype for Business Hello AIM for the working world! Skype allows every employee to have quick and easy access to one another. Not only does Skype provide us with instant messaging, we can also use it to make video calls, small conference calls, and screen share. The screen sharing feature is extremely convenient in our virtual world for brainstorming, training and talking through projects that we can’t review in person. We use Skype screen share to view exactly what our peer is looking at on their own screen and go from there! Even cooler than AIM!
- Phone Of course, we cannot overlook old faithful. Simply picking up the phone is sometimes the best way to reach someone, especially if the matter is urgent. Event 360 employees come equipped with their own extension that rings either to their landline phone, cell phone, or even both. It’s safe to say that we’re pretty accessible. Jumping on a call is also great if you have not actually talked to another employee in a while. Hearing someone else’s voice and having that spoken conversation reminds you that there’s still a person behind every email and/or instant message.
Conducting meetings in a virtual world set up can get tricky, but here’s a few ways that Event 360 jumps those hurdles:
- Project Conference Calls Our employees are constantly working on various projects and events that require a lot of collaboration. Most of our meetings must take place via conference calls considering the fact that it’d be just a tad bit difficult to arrange a meeting with employees scattered across 27 different states. Employees can set up a team-call group via Skype but this is limited to 25 employees. We also have conference lines that can be reserved via Outlook that can hold up to 200 employees.
“But I need to present a 50 slide PowerPoint!” Fear not! Like most other companies, Event 360 utilizes third party meeting sites.
- GoToMeeting/Webinar This service is great for presenting more formal PowerPoints to a larger group, which may even include folks outside of the organization. Various departments have held webinars via this outlet that people outside our organization can join. Event 360 uses GoToWebinar to host our quarterly All Company Calls. Using GoToWebinar for these calls is great because 1,000 attendees can be present (enough for our <100 employee company), the presentation can be recorded (and then sent out post-call in case you missed it!) and it’s all done virtually to accommodate our employees. GoToMeetings are great for smaller presentations as this feature limits attendees to 25.
Of course, we cannot forget our company intranet (aka the place where all our desktop documents should be saved…)
- SharePoint A good resource for our company is the intranet. This is an internal network incorporating shared files, forms, calendars, master schedules, and recordings. It can be accessed by anyone and is a great place for collaboration between individuals or teams working in different parts of the country.
No matter how much you keep in touch over the phone or online, there’s still something to be said for good old-fashioned in-person contact. While we may not be able to get together with everyone else in the company on a regular basis, we’re lucky enough at Event 360 to see each other while working events across the country. When we’re not traveling though, groups who work in the same area often arrange lunches or social outings together. Even here in Chicago where we actually do have a physical office, we’ll sometimes plan an after-hours dinner out or attend a local event with the folks who work from home in different parts of the city. It’s a great way to put a face with a voice on the phone or an email address, plus it keeps the company atmosphere friendly and fun. A highlight from this year was hosting our office holiday party in Chicago at the same time as a bunch of operations meetings, so nearly half of the company got to fly in and party down.
No matter where you work, or how often you see your coworkers, there are plenty of ways to work from home with ease. Using any or all of the services we mentioned will help you stay connected to the rest of your Event 360 work family, which is never a bad thing.
And those are our tips for a virtual office! Did we miss any? Feel free to send us more ideas!
Taylor Delaney is the Human Resources Coordinator at Event 360 in the Chicago Corporate Office. Aside from exciting HR work, Taylor also dog-sits for friends, family and fellow Chicagoans in need of a trusty sitter. When she’s not touring her own city, Taylor enjoys traveling to different cities in the U.S. to experience various cultures and meet new people.
Devin is the resident Chicago Office Coordinator at Event 360. He has also taken on roles in merchandise sales at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walks and MuckFest MS as well as registration at the DAV 5K and Chef’s Cycle events. When he’s not keeping the office in shape, you’ll either find Devin out and about exploring the many Chicago neighborhoods or back in his home state of Wisconsin enjoying the great outdoors.