An Executive Director's point of view
April 22, 2013: Virtual vs. bricks-and-mortar
She has found her productivity to be much higher working in a virtual office than it had been in a traditional office setting.
April 02, 2013: No shared printers
To use a shared printer, you have to run down the hall to the printer every time you print something. If somebody else is printing, you'll have to wait in line. If they are printing envelopes or meeting badges, you may have to wait even longer.
If you print something on letterhead, you have to run down the hall, place the letterhead in the printer, run back to your desk, click "print," and run back to the printer to retrieve what you've printed, hoping that nobody else printed something on your letterhead in the interim.
When printing a big job, you have to alert everybody else, so they don't try to use the printer (and they'll have to wait for you to finish).
You should really be able to print whatever you need whenever you need it.
Everybody who has a computer at their desk should have a printer, too.
March 27, 2013: Results, not VPN logins
Some bosses track VPN logins. If workers aren't logged in, it is presumed, they must not be working.
But lots of work can be done off line.
So, focus on the results of employees' work, not on how often or how long they work.
Results are what matters.
March 13, 2013: No policy required
You cannot possibly anticipate every situation that an organization may face. And you don't need to be ready with a canned response for each one.
A lot of decisions can and should be made on a case-by-case basis.
So, learn good decision-making skills and stop running to the rules book whenever a decision needs to be made.
March 12, 2013: Should it be free?
Here's an example of one association that did not think it was beneficial, so it started charging for what used to be free. That seems to have been a good decision.
But is it always?
March 10, 2013: Too busy for recordkeeping
But failing to do those things can actually distract them from tasks required to fulfill their missions, cost them money, and even risk their tax-exempt status. For example:
- An advocacy organization faced a job discrimination charge but could not produce the information necessary to counter it. Countless hours had to be spent piecing together payroll records, personnel files, and management memos to prove the charge was unfounded.
- A membership association laid off two employees who each claimed to have accumulated ten vacation days. The organization had not kept a record of anybody's time off, so it had to pay the claims, even though it may not have really been liable for them.
- The same organization, under different leadership, did not file tax returns nor its annual report to the State. It had to spend a considerable amount of time negotiating with the IRS to reduce penalties and to maintain its tax-exemption. Meanwhile, the State had dissolved the corporation - eliminating the exclusive right to legally use its name - and the association had to apply for reinstatement.
- A professional association did not pay any classroom instructors for its certification classes because financial records had not been properly maintained. Only after exhaustive research was it able to determine who needed to be paid and how much they needed to be paid.
- Another professional organization did not bother to keep all of its corporate files - including the IRS determination letter that was proof of its tax-exempt status. So, it was unable to procure reduced, not-for-profit rates from some of its vendors until a replacement letter was obtained from the IRS (and that took a long time).
- Yet another professional group failed to preserve a list of members who had attained the highest level of accomplishment in the profession. It was forced to conduct a painstaking search - including tracking down the owners of defunct email addresses - to reassemble the list.
Recordkeeping is an important part of every organization's work. So be sure it is a routine operational task in your group.
March 03, 2013: Distractions
Advocates of the physical office location cite countless opportunities for idea stimulation from frequent, personal contact with others. While those instances may occur, a physical office also presents numerous distractions:
- The boss interrupts you in the middle of a task to ask a question (which benefits the boss, but not you), takes up twenty minutes of your time, and makes you forget what you were originally doing;
- A co-worker pops into your office to tell you some juicy gossip that just has to be shared, takes up twenty minutes of your time, and makes you forget what you were originally doing;
- The person in the adjoining office uses a speakerphone to participate in a conference call. The sound pierces walls and closed doors, and disrupts the brainstorming you were doing for an important project;
- You arrive at the office Monday morning energized and ready to work when an employee, co-worker, or your boss asks about your weekend. You relate the basics and (of course) ask how their weekend was, taking up twenty minutes of your time, and disrupting your momentum.
There are plusses and minuses to working in physical offices and in virtual offices. Neither is better than the other, and each poses problems for those better suited for the other.
February 25, 2013: No more office
These organizations have saved money, increased productivity, and reduced staff turnover. They've utilized technology to stay connected, and even found ways to schedule face time, when necessary. They learned that a physical office location wasn't necessary to effectively serve their groups.
Get ASAE's tips for managing a virtual association, read about one association's virtual story, and connect to a group of Virtual Association Leaders that meets on Collaborate to share ideas about virtual organizational management and operations.
February 07, 2013: Voicemail behavior
Don't hawk your products, give details about upcoming meetings, or make marketing pitches on your voicemail. It's annoying and wastes callers' time.
Keep your greetings (including those from live receptionists) brief, and route calls quickly.
Find other ways to promote your association.