Now, timelier than ever, our President and founder Larry English shares his insight into managing a successful, mostly virtual company for over 20 years. He has recently told various publications about how to make the transition into remote work and then continue to thrive as an “Office Optional” company for years to come.
Larry sat down with IEEE TV’s Jaquelyn Worx to discuss how Centric Consulting started as a virtual company and what other organizations can do to get started.
The 11-minute interview explains why we became virtual over two decades ago, including our emphasis on work-life balance and employee happiness. Larry explains the difficult parts of leading a remote workforce, the importance of modeling vulnerability as a leader, and how companies can make the transition to permanently adopting remote work.
Here’s one piece of advice you’ll gain:
“There’s a skill to learning how to build relationships in a virtual environment,” Larry says. “It’s not just talking about business; it’s really learning to connect on a personal level so that you have deeper connections among your workforce.”
Larry spoke with The Columbus Dispatch about how Centric Consulting started as a virtual company and how it has remained successful for 20 years.
The article digs into how Larry co-founded Centric 20 years ago, and how he learned to make it a successful, largely remote company.
“English said it’s crucial for companies venturing into remote working to train employees how to work virtually, which includes building conflict resolution skills without in-person visual cues and permitting midday breaks to stay energized,” the article says.
The article further explains how Larry and the other company leaders learned to develop the best remote culture, sharing some successes and learning moments from earlier days.
A guest author for Ms. Career Girl, Larry shared six steps for building a sustainable remote work culture.
One of his main points explains how vulnerability is the key to building culture.
“Vulnerability is critical to building relationships and culture. I personally have struggled with learning how to model vulnerability as a leader. It was painful at first, but over time, it’s become easier. Leaders must be real about what makes them tick as people and show new hires how to do the same. It might feel like oversharing, but without face-to-face interaction, sharing your human side is critical.”
The article further explains how COVID-19 launched companies into remote work mode, but Larry also shares that this newfound way of working most likely isn’t going away even after the virus does.
Larry spoke to News Talk Radio – KFIZ about Office Optional, and how to build a sustainable remote environment for your business.
Host Spencer Wagen talked to him on the air about his experience working for a remote company for 20 years, and Larry shared wisdom for any company looking to stay virtual long term. The segment was short but filled with useful information.
The National CIO Review featured Larry in a recent article in which they tackle ways to manage online meetings effectively.
The article shares three main practices for remote workers to follow when trying to get the most out of their remote meetings: Share the playbook, Take the lead, and Level the playing field.
Larry spoke to taking the lead by implementing engagement tactics to keep everyone involved. “Sometimes, we include an agenda item where everyone shares their highest high and lowest low for the month. Some moderators kick-off meetings with a question like ‘What is the grossest food you have ever eaten?’ or ‘If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?’ Either way, for the first five minutes or so, we talk on a personal level before diving into business,” he said.
Larry spoke with PeopleProductive Inc. about building a culture-focused virtual company. He shares the story of Centric and how our culture drives our success.
He talks about the stories behind Office Optional and how vulnerability is such an important driver in building culture. Larry speaks to how that mindset combined with trust creates a culture of safety and growth within an individual and a team.
Global Trade Magazine shared a guest post that Larry wrote about the innovative possibilities within a remote company.
He shared how Centric is the perfect place for innovators to nurture their creativity and put their best ideas into practice, despite being an entirely virtual company. He shares an anecdote about our Modern Software Delivery lead Carmen Fontana‘s ambitious goal to develop machine learning to predict and manage human resources issues, such as project staffing.
Larry goes on to share six tips for businesses wanting to grow their innovative presence. “Remote innovation is something that can be planned for, managed and grown, much like every other aspect of remote work,” he said.
Larry contributed a guest article for Young Upstarts, where he shared five crucial steps to building a remote business that lasts.
His five steps focus on trusting your employees, being vulnerable, and allowing for flexible work time.
“Encourage your remote employees to take the time they want to simply hang out on screen with other employees. Let them schedule and attend a mid-afternoon yoga class or go to pick up the kids at 2 p.m. each day. Your outcomes will be better,” Larry said.
InfoQ interviewed Larry about Office Optional in a recent article.
The online publication did a Q&A with Larry to discuss his book’s key elements, along with things like why he wrote the book, his intended audience, and how the pandemic has affected remote work.
InfoQ also questioned Larry about maintaining a strong culture in a virtual environment.
“Any company culture is transferable to a remote model, but there are things you must do differently. In the book, I explain how to think through what your culture is today so you can then figure out how to layer in the virtual components,” Larry said.
The entire interview is filled with insights into the book and cultivating a successful remote company.
Larry recently wrote a guest article for TLNT about the elements of cultural agility.
In today’s climate, especially, having a culture of agility is essential to business success. Larry shares five strengths companies need when developing their culture to be adaptable.
“A culture of agility enables interdependent teams to collaborate with ease, flexibility, innovation, and speed. It enables people to rapidly adapt to change and evolving customer insights — even when the team is not physically together. In the process, teams focus on the high-value work that simultaneously supports immediate stakeholder needs and fuels organizational progress,” Larry said.
He explains each of the five assets and how they are all interwoven as part of a thriving culture.
Vault talked to Larry about Centric and Office Optional to learn if remote companies are more productive.
The Q&A style article shares Larry’s insights into running a virtual company, along with his predictions for the future of businesses after the pandemic.
Larry said, “There’s no going back now. We’re working with a lot of organizations that are polling their employees, who overwhelmingly say they want the flexibility remote work offers. In the future, I think you’ll see most companies moving to a hybrid model of in-person and virtual work. And they’ll have no choice if they want to attract and retain top talent. The best people are going to demand the option of remote work.”
Larry English is president and co-founder of Centric Consulting, a management consulting firm that guides you in the search for answers to complex digital, business, and technology problems. Before Centric Consulting, Larry worked for a large international consulting firm out of college until he got burned out at 25. He and his newlywed wife backpacked around the world as he tried to find his path in life—and he did. Shortly after returning home, he and his like-minded pals founded Centric with a focus on changing how consulting was done by building a remote company with a mission to create a culture of employee and client happiness.
Today, Centric is a 1,000-plus person company with offices in 12 US cities and India. In his new book, Office Optional: How to Build a Connected Culture with Virtual Teams, Larry unpacks everything he’s discovered about creating and sustaining a culture of collaborative teams in a virtual environment. Connect with Larry on Twitter.