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How Our Virtual Workplace Culture Led OpenMoves to the Inc. 5000

 In Business Insights

Today more than ever, agencies need to deliver returns on every dollar their clients spend. Brand awareness, user engagement, click-throughs, and other KPIs are still important — but if you’re not bringing home a strong return on investment, your agency could be in trouble.

To deliver on the promise of results, you need a solid and committed team that loves to win and is empowered to do so. For us, that meant creating a flexible work environment, applauding creativity, building a solid team structure and developing rigorous processes. What we aimed for is simple to state, but hard to achieve: the right synthesis of accountability and freedom.

We aimed to build a workforce of entrepreneurial, independent-thinking people and provide an environment where they could thrive – without the formal structure of an office environment. Many companies are struggling to do that now. With the recent pandemic, it has become the new normal. We have been doing it for almost 20 years; it is a part of our DNA.

Building the right virtual workforce takes tenacity. Who we don’t hire is as important as who we do hire — seasoned and mature professionals with 8+ years of experience who are accustomed to working remotely. They are at the top of their game and typically are the geeks who seek a balanced and independent work/life-style.

Once onboard, we work hard to make our staff feel connected, to impart a sense of community and to build a culture based on common purpose. With daily check-ins, score-cards, virtual meetups, group chats and quarterly reviews, we make sure the work gets done well and on time. We are clear about scope of work, milestones and deadlines; everyone knows what’s expected and understands our commitment to rapid, responsive and proactive client service.

Clocking In – To Your Best Self

Having a virtual team is a part of our equation. But more importantly, our focus is on outcomes, not on “face-time.” By focusing on deliverables, our team is driven to make their time “count.”  If they reach or exceed their clients’ goals, they have more time to enjoy life instead of commuting and clocking into their jobs.

Work is all about accomplishment, and the timeline belongs to the client. Our goal is to deliver a return on their investment in the work we do to drive leads, sell their products and promote their services. Focusing on outcomes empowers our team and fulfills them. Our staff has the freedom to work when and where they feel most comfortable and productive; to explore ideas, take measured risks, and make mistakes. There is lots of praise for work well done and constructive analysis if things go wrong.

Having time to explore, travel, read, and think all feeds into being a healthier human, which makes for better marketers, consultants and analysts. This business model attracts a certain kind of person – one who values their independence and creativity, who brings their own discipline, and who enjoys the collaboration of a team. Hiring and retaining the right people and providing the environment for them to thrive is part of our special sauce.

Of course, none of this is new. These are basic management principles that have been established over years to make for effective work. The key is to adapt these principles to the virtual workplace.

That approach has paid off – this year, we proudly note that we’ve joined the Inc. 5000’s list of the nation’s top privately held companies for the first time, experiencing exponential growth of over the last year — thanks to the hard work of our virtual staff and the results we’ve delivered for our clients.

To continue to deliver these outcomes, people need to believe – in themselves, in their clients, in their contributions and in their work. They need the freedom to be who they are. We plan to keep providing the right environment for all of us to succeed.

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