Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography and courtesy of Netrix IT
Whether it’s meetings, outsourced projects, or consulting services, ever-increasing amounts of professional work are being done remotely. Netrix IT, an Eagan, Minnesota-based, IT-solutions company, understands this better than most, as they operate a satellite office right here in Fargo.
We asked them if they had any sage advice for fellow companies that might be thinking about expanding operations beyond their ZIP code. Here’s what they came up with.
The Opportunities & Challenges of Satellite Offices
- Our team structure gives our employees the ability to work with clients in both the Twin Cities and the Fargo markets. This opportunity gives our team the chance to learn new things and constantly grow.
- We’ve provided our team with the tools to divide and conquer. By spreading out our resources and establishing subject-matter experts, we’ve become much more efficient at multitasking.
- By having two separate offices and with our leadership team located in the corporate office in Eagan, we have been forced to improve our communication both internally and with our clients. One thing that’s helped us with this process is becoming a Traction EOS (entrepreneurial operating system) company. Traction ensures that we are transparent, thorough and have strong documentation.
- It’s always easier to have a conversation face to face. Email communication is easier to push to the side. Our management and leadership teams are constantly working on adding in face to face time with our team in Fargo to ensure that we can overcome pitfalls of email communication.
- Our clients love to see and meet the people they are working with. Because we service our clients as a team, a Fargo technician could be servicing a Minneapolis client or vice versa. We make it a top priority to establish as much face time as possible with our clients and to add a personal touch to an industry that often feels abstract.
How We Overcome & Avoid the Challenges
- As a technology company, we use technology to leverage our productivity and communication between our two offices.
- We have large TV monitors that show a live stream into our other office, giving our team the ability to “see” their peers daily.
- We stay in constant contact with each other by using Skype for Business and run 75 percent of our meetings through a Skype for Business video.
- We have mandatory meetings for each department on a weekly basis. We host these meetings via Skype for Business, and it’s our weekly opportunity to all sit together and strategize for the week.
- Our director of technology spent four years working in our Fargo office before joining our leadership team and moving to Eagan two years ago. He has instilled the importance of having as much face-to-face interaction with our Fargo team and clients as possible. As a leadership member, he ensures that either he or one of our owners is in the Fargo office on a monthly basis.
Thoughts from the team:
“Our conference rooms are set up with webcams that make it look like we’re all sitting around one long table. Our weekly NOC (network operations center) meetings are where we come together to discuss new initiatives, give kudos, tackle problems as a team and come up with solutions or action items to be followed up on the next week.”
Jennifer Henney, NOC Supervisor – Eagan Office
- We have an annual offsite meeting to bring the entire staff together. This gives us the opportunity to plan for the upcoming year and create time for our team to build strong relationships with their peers.
- We work as one team between two offices and find ways to bridge the gap by having our employees visit each other’s offices on a regular basis.
- As a family-oriented business, we’re more than just coworkers. Many of our employees have young children and have formed lifelong friendships with their Netrix IT family.
- We find ways to get involved in the community to bring our team together to give back. Just recently in Fargo, we came together as a team to help support one of our schools. We cleared out old equipment they no longer needed and then all went out to dinner afterward.
- It’s important to us to be as involved in the Fargo community as possible. We’re Chamber members and frequently participate in Women Connect.
- Beer thirty, massage chairs and a popcorn machine don’t hurt either.
Thoughts from the team:
“We’re able to preserve close relationships day to day through the communication tools we use. We have TVs with live camera feeds from each office so we can see everyone. This helps us in not only seeing who is available at their desk but also gives the feeling of one, cohesive office. We also use chats to communicate quickly in order to get the answers we need.”
Serena Hagel, Senior Technician – Fargo Office
- 10-15 years ago, most employers thought you needed to see your staff daily to effectively run a business. We’ve been a leader in evolving this mindset and accepting the idea of staying connected virtually and working remotely.
- In addition to our staff in Fargo, all of our employees have the ability to work remotely. For us, it’s less about working 8-5. At the end of the day, we need to take care of the client. Our team is given the freedom of flexibility within their schedule, as long as the job gets done right.
Founded in Eagan, Minnesota, in January 2002 by Mike Blom and Patty Krieger, Netrix IT is an IT-solutions company delivering managed services, consulting and outsourced technology services. With a remote office in Fargo, they were one of the first providers to market in both locations a fully comprehensive, functional, managed-service solution to their clients. They’ve partnered with clients that recognize technology as a competitive advantage in their marketplace and demand the most out of their technology investments.