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For several years now, we have been a virtual structure that allows employees to do remote work, mainly from home. This decision was made when our corporate rent, which was very expensive, was to be renewed. We sat down (the owners and key employees) and we weighed up the pros and cons of having an office. Some of the topics were: few business representatives came to visit us, they chose instead that we travel to meet with them at their offices, the nature of our employees' work made it easy to control operations since they were paid in billable hours for training, the communications tools, particularly the Internet, gave us the opportunity to stay in touch and follow up as good as we did when we met at the office, and companies were giving less and less importance to the corporate address to select a service provider.

So we made the leap. 15 years ago !!!! And we never looked back.

Of course, the nature of the work performed by our employees was an important factor in this decision.

Several companies need to have tighter control over the productivity / work structure of employees, but with all the tools that exist today (Hubstaff, Teamwork, Time Doctor, TimeSheet, etc.) including a review of how to pay (per project and/or performance based rather than hourly), it is becoming increasingly feasible for several companies to have, if not all, at least some of their employees work from home and an increasing number are choosing to do so.

But this can also be used by small companies when possible. Of course there are industries such as retail sale, restaurants, health services with heavy equipment (dentists, x-ray, etc...) that do not lend themselves to this way of doing things. But entire industries like the service industry can benefit from having reduced costs through a virtual work organization. Even in the health sector, we see the growing number of at home services (physiotherapist, massage therapist, etc.).

But to be viable this work organisation must be studied. Do you have a loss of income because you take more time between your customers, because you have to visit them and you can not compensate by charging a higher fee? Is the cost of rent being offset by exorbitant travel costs? Is it difficult to change the way you pay your employees? Etc ... Then this work structure may not be the best for your company.

If you have experiences to share or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
Marketing consultant