by Elizabeth Potts Weinstein
To grow my small business, I needed a project manager to help me get efficient, streamlined systems in place. So why did I hire a virtual employee? Like animals, people thrive when they are free range.
I live and work in California, while my project manager works out of her home or a coworking space, tellingly called Uncubed, in downtown Denver, Colorado. She and her digital nomad husband also work from “parts unknown” in the world—anywhere there is high-speed Internet. For example, in March she worked while traveling in Argentina, connecting to the Internet for meetings and projects via cafes and her Airbnb.
Here’s my theory: people who are free to be who they are, in a place they love to be, will be more happy and productive.
A certain segment of the population refuses to compromise on themselves, knowing they would be squashed in a cube, and those people are an untapped resource.
Changing scenery and new people stimulate creativity, bringing fresh ideas and momentum that benefit everyone. I’m passionate that people in my life–me, my loved ones, my employees, my clients–live true to their beliefs & in full expression of who they really are being in the world. Creating positions in resonance with this philosophy not only helps us create more work/life harmony in the world—it also is an efficient way to make more money—for everyone.
When it comes down to it, I hired a virtual employee because I’m one too. I don’t think of my “home” as the apartment I rent—my “homes” are all the dynamic, interesting, peaceful places I travel—National Parks, hiking through the woods, hanging out on an ocean cliff, drinking coffee on a park bench. Not only can I work from anywhere, but those experiences nurture who I am and help me have more energy and dedication for my clients.
Are there any downsides to working with someone who is in a different time zone? I haven’t found any. With a combination of robust online collaboration tools such as Google Apps and Insightly, as well as regular video conferences on Skype, we stay connected and productive, while maintaining a much greater degree of autonomy than we would if we had to go to an office every day. Like many Gen Xers, we started our careers in traditional offices and recall feeling stuck in a space that is not of our own choosing.
Once you forge a new path, there is no going back.
Might we have a physical location someday? Perhaps. If we have employees who are more supported by being “at work” in person (according to them, not according to a consultant or the latest workspace theory to come out of the MBA schools), I’d be willing to rent out an office, or, more likely, pay for a membership to a co-working or startup space.
In the meanwhile, I intend to tap into the potential of employees who want to work virtually, to have control over their environment and lifestyle.
Elizabeth Potts Weinstein is an attorney, mom, writer, and explorer. As a small business attorney, she helps entrepreneurs, artists, coaches, and consultants find simplicity in the law, so they can get back to spending their time helping their clients and changing the world.