How to Embrace a Virtual Workplace with Chad James

Episode #166 the Wingnut Social Podcast

Chad James has been in the design industry for 23+ years. He leads a talented team of trusted designers in creating a uniquely tailored experience to each client they serve—centered on a meticulous approach to quality and design. They work to create custom residential and commercial construction including boutique hotels, refined restaurants, and beautiful homes.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [1:33] Natalie’s Birthday present just happens to be…
  • [4:59] Chad James shares the pros and cons of going virtual 
  • [7:01] Focus on creating some sense of normalcy
  • [9:04] Using Microsoft Teams to ease the transition
  • [15:34] Moving back into the office full-time
  • [16:56] The pros and cons of each option
  • [21:09] How to get a hold of samples in a virtual workplace
  • [23:32] Operating virtually and managing a team
  • [29:06] Should designers move to a virtual workplace? 
  • [31:35] Something that surprised Chad when working virtually
  • [34:11] The importance of establishing personal connections with your team
  • [37:08] The What Up Wingnut Round! 
  • [40:44] How to connect with the Chad James Group
  • [44:41] Can’t-miss blooper reel!

Connect with Chad James

Resources & People Mentioned

How Microsoft Teams eased the transition into a Virtual Workplace

Nashville had a large influx of cases early on in the Coronavirus pandemic. This led Chad and his team to decide to shift to a virtual workplace. But how did they do it? How did they move their office home and make it a smooth transition? Chad notes that Microsoft Teams was the platform his team brought to the table. Chad was hesitant to use it—because he’s a loyal Apple guy—but they ended up loving it. 

Plus, it opened up a new realm of possibility for his clients. He’s able to share drawings, proposals, and screenshots while still being able to see their reactions over video. Chad admits that he’s an old dog when it comes to technology and he doesn’t like to learn new tricks but Microsoft Teams is user-friendly and easy to maneuver. 

Since his team has moved back to the office they’ve continued to use the platform for inner-office communication as well as client communication. What started as something that would ease the transition into a virtual workplace become a staple for their office.

Weigh the move to a virtual workplace carefully

Chad learned early on in his career that he needed separation of work and home life. Not only that, but he prefers to be in an office interacting with people and building on the relationships he’s formed. If you’re contemplating completely moving your team to a virtual workplace he notes that you have to decide what’s most important for your creativity and business mindset. 

For his business, that means moving back into the workplace, while embracing a few of the things that made the virtual workplace manageable for them, such as Microsoft Teams. But you have to consider what’s best for the functionality of your team. Chad notes that the Chad James Group is “About the relationship and the feeling and the experience more than just the day-to-day design.”

Managing and operating a virtual workplace

Operating and managing a virtual workplace can be an easy shift—depending on how much you trust your team. Chad points out that he has a director of operations that is the glue that holds everything together. He knows Chad’s schedule better than he does. As a creative, Chad can get a bit overwhelmed if he looks too far into the future. Having a Director of Operations helped ground him in the day-to-day and take everything a moment at a time. 

One of Chad’s biggest concerns, when they shifted to a virtual workplace, was the eventual transition back into the office. He didn’t want his team to develop poor habits while working from home. So from the very beginning, they had a morning Microsoft Teams call where he saw everyone dressed with hair and makeup done—showered and prepared as though they were going to the office. 

One of Darla’s favorite phrases is “How you do anything is how you do everything.” and this is an example of that. Getting up and getting ready for the day puts you in a mind-space where you’re ready to actually work and not be lackadaisical and comfortable. 

Create a place of transparency for your team

When Chad’s Dad passed away a few years ago, he realized he needed to be very purposeful with the remaining years of his life. He chose to be purposeful about his intentions and how his team, company, and clients saw him. When his team transitioned into a virtual workplace he knew it was important to continue to foster an environment where everyone talked openly and honestly about how they were dealing with their emotions. 

He points out that as a business owner, there will always be things that you keep in your side pocket and deal out when it needs to be dealt. This time wasn’t just about business, but about each other. It’s so easy when you’re not working in an office to become detached and distant and to lose the human connection. 

Chad points out that you don’t want to hear that someone on your team experienced a hurt or loss and you didn’t know about itHe emphasizes how important it is that you remain connected and talk through emotions with your team. 

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

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