Inc’s Virtual Experiment

We mentioned nearly two months ago that Inc was going to see if it was possible to put together one whole issue of its magazine virtually. No office.

Well, the results are in and the issue hits newsstands next Tuesday.

The NYT reports that most Inc staff decided they wanted to work out of the office more often: “Most employees discovered that they could and should work out of the office more often — though they did not want to eliminate the office entirely.” Others found themselves working harder than usual, missing their coworkers, avoiding their kids.

But let’s get it straight from the horse’s mouth, shall we?

Inc’s cover story lines up some very tempting pros and a few cons.

Pro 1) You will save a ton of money. “If Inc.’s editorial operations no longer required an office, we would save about $500,000 a year in rent alone. That’s an enormous sum for an organization like ours — enough to pay every full-time staff member a $16,000 bonus.”

Pro 2) You don’t need fancy equipment. “The technology doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. The more time we spent out of the office, the less we even thought about the technology. Most virtual employees can do their jobs with a laptop, some free software programs, an Internet connection, and not a whole lot else.”

Con 1) Working at home. “During the first week of our experiment, many of us were very nearly losing our minds. Some forgot to eat lunch; others ate way too much. Our feet were cold; our backs ached; and, in a few dire cases, our relationships suffered.” (Wait, how is this different from working in an office? Isn’t there always that one demonic facilities guy who keeps messing with the HVAC to ensure your feet are always freezing in winter?)

Con 2) Coworker bonding is nonexistent. “Setting up a videoconference just to shoot the breeze felt somehow wasteful, and we ended up talking much less to one another than we do in person.”

The whole piece is a good read, so check it out, and then check out all Inc’s supplementary content:
When to Go Unvirtual
Telecommuting by the Numbers
How a Virtual Company Communicates
How to Manage Virtual Employees
No Office, No Problem