Working Remotely: Built from the Ground Up

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Early Adopters

At its founding in 1996, Stone elected to adopt the virtual office strategy and has grown steadily to over 80 full-time employees.  It is the largest systems integrator in North America that has a distributed workforce.

Advantages

  • Ability to hire the best people – regardless of where they live
  • Improved employee satisfaction and work-life balance by providing schedule flexibility
  • Allows employee to relocate easily for aging parents, grandkids, or lifestyle changes
  • Scales easily
  • Saves time and reduces car expenses by not commuting, a much greener way to work
  • Distributed and cloud-based systems are less subject to catastrophic failure
  • In surveys for the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s annual Top Workplaces survey, our employees consistently cite our remote office and company culture as an important benefit

Challenges and Solutions

Understanding that there is no ideal organizational structure and that addressing the challenges is a big part of the solution

  • The lack of a “water cooler” makes it a challenge to create a deep company culture
  • Frequent phone, email, IM, and text communications builds relationships
  • Once a year all-hand-on-deck meeting and party for all employees and spouses/significant others further builds the bonds 
  • Quarterly web-based communications meeting shares company strategies, performance, internal improvement initiatives, and other project activities
  • Internal communications
  • Daily project stand-up meetings and our collaboration tools provide the best development possible
  • Just because people are in the same physical location, does not mean that they communicate well
  • Distributed infrastructure can be more susceptible to cyber intrusion
  • Using external company to train and test every employee to strengthen internal security
  • Internal team that develops and reviews best practices and systems and repeats often
  • Certain things need a physical location
  • Stone has a brick and mortar office in St. Louis for:
    • Factory Acceptance Testing
    • In person meetings
    • Testing of hardware and physical systems
    • New graduate training and mentoring

How it Works

  • The hiring process focuses on people who will thrive in an independent environment
  • Not everyone is wired to be a remote worker, and that’s OK, but not for Stone
  • All systems are distributed with secure access and a document management system
  • System functionality and electrical and controls design
  • Software development and testing
  • Internal systems like Project Management, HR, remote collaboration

Customer Benefits

  • High employee retention because employee satisfaction means continuity over time for our client’s processes and technologies
  • With people in 22 states, Stone may have a resource near you
  • Lower total cost for projects