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CEOs: Working remotely is often a great alternative

CEOs were asked: An increasing number of businesses are turning to remote workers to satisfy talent demands. Has your organization turned to remote work yet, and if so, why, and how have you made it work?
CEOs were asked: An increasing number of businesses are turning to remote workers to satisfy talent demands. Has your organization turned to remote work yet, and if so, why, and how have you made it work? Getty Images/iStockphoto

CEOs were asked: An increasing number of businesses are turning to remote workers to satisfy talent demands. Has your organization turned to remote work yet, and if so, why, and how have you made it work?

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Employees today want work/life balance. We have offered employees the ability to work remotely for a percentage of their time for several years, and the level of flexibility depends on the situation as well as that employee’s position. We have also made investments to give employees the technology to be able to work from home, or from their client’s office, as often happens.

Tony Argiz, chairman, CEO, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC (MBAF)

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We have several functions that are handled remotely, including IT, purchasing and marketing/media relations. It is cost effective and communications makes it work. (By remotely, I am referring to employees and contact workers who do not work from our facility, not outsourced to another country.)

Jennifer Cramer, CEO, co-founder, The Spice Lab

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We have remote workers all over the world. It has its challenges, but in today’s world of connectivity it makes sense. It is a great way scale. We have made it work by building infrastructure to support remote access.

Maurice R. Ferré, CEO, chairman, INSIGHTEC

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Architecture and engineering are apprenticeship professions. We learn the basics in school but we develop by learning from those around us at work. We need to interact beyond the particular assigned task or project. There is a tremendous value to our growth on being part of a design studio and culture. Our staff has the ability to work remotely for special circumstances and to help balance work and life. But ultimately, we are in a people’s business and there is no substitution to constant personal interaction.

Adriana Jaegerman, senior principal, managing leader, Stantec

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The only way it works for a small, service enterprise like ours is by establishing both a strong brand identity and a culture of constant communication. Each of our team members becomes the “client” of another team member when support is required. LatourLaw first opened offices in Asia Pacific in the early 1990s and remote workers have always been a part of our formula. In our early years, our Miami office was supported by full time, off-site staff in Gainesville, the Philippines and Hong Kong. Today, our foreign presence is consolidated in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where we have a full time staff of nine but we still rely on remote employees and contractors throughout the world

José E. Latour, founding partner, LatourLaw

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We have staff members throughout the state of Florida, and none work remotely. A few have asked to work remotely, and our policy is that everyone works in the office. We are in the people business and the organization helps companies to grow. Collaboration is more effective when team members interact with each other face-to-face

Beatrice Louissaint, president, CEO, Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council

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Strong teamwork is critical to organization effectiveness. While technology can connect remote workers, the key to impact and a supportive workplace continues to be the mutual trust that only face-to-face conversations can nurture. When too many people are working remotely, doing their own thing without proper structure, the whole cannot be greater than the sum of the parts.

John Quelch, vice provost, University of Miami Dean, Miami Business School and Leonard M. Miller University Professor

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Ironhack has been a remote-friendly organization since we started the company in 2013. We, for instance, have a distributed HQ (I sit 5,000 miles away from my co-founder), which over the years, has raised eyebrows from potential partners and investors. Although this modern organizational structure indeed poses many challenges, it can also be an incredible competitive advantage. For instance, when recruiting talent, we can tap into a global pool, and not just depend on the candidates of one of our cities. The benefits for retention of employees are numerous as well, as many young professionals in today’s world value geographic mobility. A critical learning for our organization over the years has been that there isn’t a substitute for face-to-face exchanges, and the company needs to invest in those, as costly as they may be. In the first couple of years of the company, we couldn’t afford to fly people from all over the world to do “all hands on deck” in-person meetings. As such, people had a tough time fostering meaningful connections over video conference, and some of our different locations weren’t actively shaping our company culture. For the past couple of years, we’ve hosted an annual week-long summit for all of our global employees, mostly centered around connectivity and culture. Many cost-sensitive employers would be concerned with the expenses of doing such an event, but for us, the ROI is there. After investing more in these type of in-person events, we have a seen an increase in employee engagement, more alignment across geographies and departments, and a stronger and consistent company culture.

Ariel Quiñones, co-founder, Ironhack

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In the past few years, we have selectively hired remote workers when we needed to acquire access to expert, proven talent within a specific budget or time-frame. It has worked very well for us because (1) we were willing to be flexible, (2) we were able to hire mature professionals with solid work histories and recommendations, and (3) we quickly established regular two-way communications, primarily via email and secondarily by phone. Our marketing initiative is an excellent example, and we’ve had similar success with key sales positions. On the flip side, the majority of our work involves personalized client services and support, and most of our staff are required to be onsite at our locations. This hybrid model has proven to be ideal for our needs.

Kelly Ramsden, managing partner, Office Edge and Legal Edge

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THE MIAMI HERALD CEO ROUNDTABLE IS A WEEKLY FEATURE THAT APPEARS IN BUSINESS MONDAY OF THE MIAMI HERALD. Meet the current members of the roundtable.

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