I started my Virtual Staffing company, VE People, just over 6 years ago. In that time, I have experienced all the highs and lows an entrepreneur can think of (I hope!) and remain a strong promoter of the benefits of hiring staff virtually. Whilst I won’t go into these benefits now, I would like to demonstrate an unintended benefit that has come my way and allowed me to pivot my business through the years to stay relevant.
Over the years I have worked with 100’s of virtual staff from a variety of countries. Throughout that time, I have been able to build a considerable network of virtual professionals in a range of disciplines. I can say proudly that we have successfully delivered projects on every continent (except Antarctica). That network has many layers but has created something very special.
I call it the “Engine Room”.
The Engine Room is my internal team, many of whom have worked for me for years. They are, in the majority, full time workers. In fact, the team is comprised of 9 full time staff members who deliver on a range of different ventures. This team is my engine room turning concepts into reality.
The team is multi-disciplinary and it is common for individuals to be strong in multiple areas. What does the engine do for me?
- Website Design, Development & Management (Full end to end management of the website life cycle from design through to ongoing support)
- Keyword research, Content Planning and Development
- Client Services Management
- Digital Marketing (Social Media Management, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation)
- Sales (Inbound)
- Accounting, Contract & Payroll Management
- Project Management
- Human Resources
- Internet Research
- Graphic Design
Now I know this reads a little bit like a service listing for a virtual staffing agency but I promise you it’s not. You can see the above listing pretty much covers the end to end operations of my business. My team takes care of the lot. But there is an additional bonus that the engine room takes care of. They manage other virtual staff.
The engine room is supported by a number of contractors who perform specific functions for the team on an “on-demand” basis. These include web administrators, additional content writers, web developers and other technical roles. The engine room will engage and manage these staff without any need for my involvement (other than to approve the financials of course).
The purpose of sharing this information with you is to demonstrate that you can establish a virtual team that has the capability to operate semi-autonomously – in fact, this is exactly how you should think when engaging virtual staff. Too many people make the mistake of hiring virtual staff and treating them like robots subsequently shutting out any opportunity to relieve themselves of administrative or managerial load.
Establishing an engine room has magnified my capability and allowed me to perform my role as founder and CEO at the right level. It allows me to conceptualise and plan initiatives with the confidence that I do not need to be involved all the time for them to be delivered successfully. It enables running a portfolio of projects instead of running in a linear manner. But most importantly, it allows people who are much better skilled than I am to deliver what our clients need.