Increasingly for small businesses, it’s a virtual world out there, as the traditional brick and mortar office has given way to employees working from their homes and communicating with each other electronically.
That’s the solution for InsideOut Solutions, based at 436 S. Sequim Ave. since 2005. As of Dec. 23, all of the company’s website design and management and Internet marketing for the hospitality industry has been done from the homes of its nine employees and several remote contractors.
InsideOut has about 450 clients in North America, South America and Ireland.
“When InsideOut began (in 1995), it had mostly local clients. Now it has clients from all over the world,” said co-owner and president Patricia McCauley.
“Almost all our business is by e-mail or telephone, so having a wonderful building with great exposure was making less and less sense,” she said. “We communicate in the office by chat or video, so some days we might not actually see each other even though we are in the same building. Again, why commute to and from the office if we can communicate just as well from our own homes?”
Employees applauded the change, especially those living in Gardiner or west of Port Angeles. After two years of having their systems administrator work successfully from Arkansas, the three owners — Jim and Patricia McCauley and Beth Edwards — decided a virtual office would benefit everyone.
“Not having to come in from Dungeness is pretty sweet,” Patricia McCauley said, noting the only investment they’ve had to make was new phones for the employees. Everyone has taken their computers and accessories home.
The only downside as far as McCauley can see it is no more goodies to share in the kitchen.
“It will be perfectly seamless to go mobile,” McCauley noted. “A lot of our clients are in the Cloud, where data is stored offsite in a big server farm. It’s very secure. Everybody will have access to all of the clients with a client management tool and not having a physical office is a cost-saving thing, too.”
Over the past 18 years, InsideOut has moved five times as it’s grown larger and larger.
“By growing in a virtual office we don’t have to worry about that anymore,” McCauley said. “It’s also a great opportunity to hire people outside the area — it’s hard to find qualified people to do coding and programming and it really limits the geographic area applicants come from.
“A virtual office is a huge bonus for employees and the company. InsideOut has lost employees in the past because they received offers that allowed them to work from home.”
No more calls to the conference room, either, with Google Hangout that allows a string of employees to meet simultaneously in real time, McCauley explained.
The owners plan to take the next three or four months to tie up loose ends at the office and will put the commercially zoned building up for sale in early 2014.
For more information about InsideOut, see www.insideout.com or call 683-5774 ext. 302.