Book Review: Virtual Culture by Bryan Miles
- Readability 85% 85%
- Inspirational Value 90% 90%
- Educational Value 80% 80%
- Actionable 70% 70%
- Overall Rating 80% 80%
Typical Read Time (hrs)
About The Author and Belay
Bryan Miles is the CEO of BELAY, one of the biggest and most successful virtual assistant staffing companies around. BELAY boasts a staff of over 600 people all of whom work remotely. Not only does Bryan have a ton of experience running in remote companies, but BELAY has also been included in the Inc 5000 list of the fastest growing companies for three years in a row, and was ranked as the small business with the best culture by Entrepreneur and CultureIQ. All of that without anyone stepping foot in an office. You can see why I wanted to check out Bryan’s book.
Virtual Culture Overview
Virtual Culture can mostly be categorized as a brand statement. It is a way for Bryan to highlight the great work they are doing at BELAY, establish himself and the company as industry leaders, and show possible clients and other businesses how working in a remote setting can help their companies and make their employees happier. Bryan does a good job of providing useful information and statistics on why working remotely in a virtual setting is beneficial. There are also several golden nuggets of actionable advice that are scattered throughout the book. In the second to last chapter, you can find a great case study about LifeWay, a company based out of Nashville that recently adopted a remote business model and how they went about doing it. To be honest, I highlighted and saved basically that whole chapter! A good portion of this book also discusses company culture. This makes sense due to BELAY’s awards and how important it is for remote companies. Running a virtual company means that you are competing for the top talent on a global scale. This gives workers a lot of power and selection over what companies they work for. That’s why your company culture is so important when you are running a remote company. If your company culture is terrible, and people hate working in your company, good luck retaining top talent. I am very happy with this book and it provided some great information in a part of the industry that is hungry for advice. The only thing that I am left wanting more of is a bit more actionable advice. Like I said earlier I also loved the case study at the end and wish that there were more examples structured in a similar way throughout Virtual Culture. I highly recommend checking out Virtual Culture. It is a quick read and can definitely give you a better understanding of what working remotely can look and feel like.
While reading the book I took notes on Evernote and here are a few of my favorite golden nuggets:
- “I (Bryan) require everyone to use video chat instead of phone calls. It is easy to miss those silent struggles if you can’t see someone’s face and look into their eyes.”
- Buddies Program: Belay employees are assigned buddies that they don’t know very well and are tasked with spending 15 minutes talking to one another over Zoom. This gives them the opportunity to get to know each other a little better on a personal level and strengthen relationships. Think of it like replacing the water cooler at your office.
- In the book Bryan recommends looking at the first 90 days of a new employee’s work as a trial period. During this time he will check in with the new employee more often and will message them without using any abbreviations, especially internal ones. This reduces the chances of the new employee misunderstanding something.
- 8 characteristics of a good virtual employee: 1. Results orientated 2. Motivated self starter 3. Values working hard at “home” 4. Values flexibility and autonomy 5. Natural problem solver 6. Openly communicative 7. Sympathetic to audience (coworker/client) 8. Organized Red flags: 1. No dedicated workspace 2. Lack of basic technical skills 3. Easily distracted/not self-motivated