Virtual world history was made on October 30, 2015 with the first time ever virtual fall festival, complete with a costume parade. Who says you need a building, or a parking lot to have a festival? We had games, prizes, costumes and of course, cauldrons of fun. We held the first fall festival in 2015 and since then, it has become one of our annual work from home traditions.

The festival day begins with Trick or Treat Street, a board game. As appointment production comes in throughout the day, the individual who set the appointment lands on a square on the board game. He or she may win a cool treat such as a gift card or PTO, or they may land, sadly, on a Boo-Hoo space and win nothing. At midday, we host our costume parade on Zoom and showcase the creepy costumes and spooky ooky selfies and announce the Mystery Prizes. It’s a fun way to get a lot of work done, scare the new people, and a strangely interesting way to meet people who may live on the other side of the United States that you may not ever meet in person.

There is no rule that says work can’t be fun. We work hard, and cold calling all day is hard, but the day goes by fast when you mix in some team spirit with a bit of celebration and festivity. Some of our best and most creative ideas for games, themes and contests have come from our Business Development Specialists, the people who are in the trenches making the dials. Who better to come up with ideas than the people doing the job from right where the tires meet the road?

Corporate culture of fun. Research shows that repetitive tasks don’t get done as well when working from home. It’s proven that working from home improves the productivity for jobs requiring creativity, but at the same time, it actually hinders jobs that are repetitive in nature, like our job, which is cold calling, repetitive dialing and saying the same thing all day. Our mission is to keep all the good aspects of working from home and lose the bad, such as loneliness, isolation, loss of camaraderie and loss of productivity, even while performing repetitive type tasks. The team competitions we have are the most popular of all, probably because they are among the best ways of combatting the darker side of working from home. Productivity is always high when we play football or some other sports team game together.

Another way we fray the repetitive nature of cold calling is by having a system where each BDS calls on at least two client accounts. Full time people generally call on more than two client accounts, but the option is there for everyone, other than brand new people, to work in multiple time zones and on multiple accounts. There are fabulous freedoms and advantages to our virtual way of life, however, it also comes with some challenges. Our corporate culture is to be the most non-virtual, virtual company possible, and fun is one of the best ways to create that non virtual, virtual experience.

Roots in hybrid beginnings. In the early years of the company, we were pioneers of the virtual business model. Working from home was not at all common in 1996. We were almost entirely virtual even then, however, we also held “in person” meetings at least one time per month. We met in person at our office to recognize achievements, break some bread together and communicate goals, changes and opportunities. It was easier to do in those days because everybody was in the greater Houston area. Our clients were mostly in the Houston area in those days too. When we went to a new client kick off meeting, we went to the client’s office, or the client came to our office in person vs. having a teleconference. In those days, we felt like we knew each other because we actually did know each other. There is no denying that stronger, more meaningful business relationships are developed more naturally in person. These hybrid methods firmly grounded the company’s success. We worked remotely but came together in person periodically, with each other and with our clients.

Return to hybrid roots. Later, as demand grew, we evolved by casting a wider net for talent outside of the Houston area. We temporarily drifted away from the original hybrid method of seeing each other in person periodically, and became more and more virtual than ever before. That did not work as well, so we made a conscious decision to return to our hybrid roots, to literally be less virtual, by flying people in to Houston to work directly with top producers and meet other members of the team in person. As time went by, our clients also became more and more outside of Houston. Now, we have momentarily paused our hybrid ideal because of COVID, however, one day COVID will be gone, post era, and we will resume our return to hybrid. It is good to see each other in person at least once in a while. The hybrid is the ideal because it represents a balance of the best of both worlds. We get to work from home and we get to see each other once in a while.

Virtual world history. Is that even a thing? In school we study American History, World History, Texas History, the History of Rome and all kinds of history. One day students may or may not study Virtual World History. History moves in mysterious ways and only time will tell. Since there is no official Virtual World History at this time, this article may be either Pre-History or the very first article about Virtual World History. In either case, therefore, let it be known in the annals to be recorded, Virtual World History, that it is not only possible to play team sports and even dance with each other while working from home, it has actually been happening since circa 2003. And further for the record, let it be known that we also read books together, we have coffee together and we even sing together. In fact, it is very difficult to work with our company and be a virtual wall flower. If you are curious to find out how we earn an excellent living while dancing and singing together in our virtual call center, bring your A game, fun self on over and make some virtual world history with us and apply today to work from your home office.

Tracie Chancellor
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