Working Virtually back home from Switzerland, a career partner's choice
here-I-go: What line of work are you in ?
Preston : My business is real estate management. I have 10 employees who handle the leasing, maintenance and administration of a portfolio of buildings in Seattle, WA.
here-I-go: How did you make it work?
Preston : I relied heavily on mobile conferencing, skype from a staff meeting and from job sites. I gave the team members far more latitude in decision making and I picked my battles over what to have less control over. Part of the fun was showing the team over skype the view out the hotel window at each new city.
here-I-go: What were some of the challenges?
Preston : The two hardest parts of running a real estate business remotely were articulating status updates on subjective projects and making use of technology for those who don’t benefit from it. Take a simple project, installing a door. Take a simple question—is it done? The carpenter may say yes, but not say it hadn’t been painted. The painter might say it’s done, but not say the saw dust and hadn’t been cleaned up. The leasing agent might say it’s all cleaned up, but not see that the door stop is missing. It took me a long time to understand the lens through which each of the players was seeing the ‘finished’ product and ask the appropriate questions. On technology, someone who fixes leaky faucets doesn’t directly benefit from taking a picture and emailing it, especially if that is not a familiar process. It doesn’t make the process go any faster or the faucet work any better, but it helps paint a picture of what ‘finished’ looks like.
here-I-go: What were some of the (unplanned) benefits?
Preston : Being away exposed some weaknesses in my business that lead to some personnel and policy changes. It allowed the small shortcomings that would ordinarily get corrected, to pile up and become larger problems. Once the magnitude of the problem was more significant, finding the solution was imperative.
here-I-go: Going back what do you think you want to preserve from your new work style in terms of work/life balance or other (delegation, etc)?
Preston : I got in the habit of traveling with my wife on her business trips and would like to continue this where possible. It was a combination of training myself to be able to work from anywhere with varied resources and ensuring the team had the confidence and tools to make decisions that didn’t require my input. I love to travel, but I don’t like to vacation so having some purpose (however little time it occupied) was good balance to my day and allowed me to go more places with my wife.
here-I-go: How did you deal with isolation as this meant you had to connect to other networks locally than those getting their social interaction from face to face contacts in the workplace?
Preston : Run, play with my daughter, make friends I wouldn’t have made otherwise. I was a founding member of the Geneva wive’s club—where the precious few male partners would get together for lunch.
here-I-go: Any other thought, ideas or recommendations for someone thinking of doing the same thing?
Preston : Do it, and don’t look back!
here-I-go: Thanks Preston and safe travels home ! We’d love to hear from anyone else who has been working virtually from the Lake Geneva region whether they are an entrepreneur or working for an organization back home !
Note from hereigo : please ensure you discuss vritual work situations with your tax advisor to ensure you do not breach any rules