The #1 challenge of every small business:

Attracting and keeping the best employees

Today in order to attract and keep the best employees, businesses should provide:

  • Flexibility of both hours and location
  • Transparency of work plans and priorities from the CEO on down
  • Accolades tied to Accountability

What if you had a tool that facilitated attracting and keeping the best employees and consultants:

  • no matter where they lived
  • no matter what their work schedule

Take a look at The Online Virtual Office, a new and unique management tool, which is easy-to-use and low-cost

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The Online Virtual Office

Attracting the Best Employees

Research shows that the best workers want - and can demand -
flexibility in their schedule and in their location of work.
For many it is more important than salary or status.

Yet this progressive business model can pose a number of challenges that include:

  • Ineffective communication between members of your team
  • Inefficient collaboration strategies
  • Lack of Accountability
  • Feelings of isolation for off-site workers


With The Online Virtual Office you will:

Promote a Family-Friendly and Humane Company Culture

You'll be able to employ talented individuals who require flexibility due to parenting and other personal requirements.

Expand your Hiring Drop Zone

Imagine a candidate has the skills you require but lives in a distant community, state or country. That candidate can now be hired and managed more effectively. Or if a highly-prized employee must relocate, rather than having to hire and train a new person for that position, you can retain that valuable individual using tools that make it easy to remain an integral part of your team.

Keeping the Best Employees

The best employees are self-motivated problem-solvers, who excel at critical, creative and strategic thinking. This should be as true for your mailroom personnel as it is for your top-tiered VPs. These high-performing individuals crave transparency of organization goals and projects so they can be an integral part of the organization. And because they are so good, they want recognition for a job well done and therefore they are not adverse to accountability for either themselves or their team members.

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The Online Virtual Office

Our Story: How and why we developed The Online Virtual Office.

As the owner of the educational publishing company, Academic Innovations and Academic Innovations Higher Ed, based in St. George Utah, I knew I needed help with the management of our staff and consultants because at the time over a third of my staff, including myself, lived in other parts of the country.

Founded in 1990, in Santa Barbara, California, I remained there when, in 2001, we moved to company to Utah to follow one of our most talented and dedicated staff members. She was the VP of operations and curriculum support and we’d invested a lot into her professional development. When a family situation necessitated her move back to St George we arranged to move the administrative portion of the small company with her. From then on I communicated daily with my staff located in Utah by phone and email. (which today has evolved to include text messaging and daily online meetings).

From the beginning of our company I understood that to be competitive in today’s workplace I had to hire the best, no matter where they were located. Finding individuals with the right skills could be a challenge outside a major metropolitan area. So telecommuting was the answer for many high-skilled positions.

And because I believed in family first, I wanted to provide my employees with the flexibility to adjust their hours to meet pressing family responsibilities. I knew there were many talented individuals, with young families that would appreciate the opportunity to be able adjust their workday when family issues arose.

Read More »By Mindy Bingham

The advent of email, Internet and online management platforms allowed us the freedom to do just that: to create a new business model that was a win/win for highly productive individuals. This structure promotes loyalty and workplace satisfaction. And as we all know, a happy employee is a productive employee.

In 2010 as online management platforms developed, we went on the hunt to find a system that would keep our company competitive. We tried a popular project management system that was a step-up from our hit and miss efforts. But after nearly two years we abandoned it because I got tired of trying to get everyone to consistently use it. Without universal adoption by ALL staff, too many things were falling through the cracks.

Again we went back to our hunt. After reviewing and testing other online systems, out of frustration we decided to build our own. We had a list of must haves for this new management systems and they included:

  • Require everyone to use it, daily and at all times.
  • Be a real time snap shot of the activity in the company showing at any moment in time, who was working and available and who was not and what they were currently working on
  • Provide real time flexibility for staff while at the same time requiring accountability
  • Provide transparency of projects and priorities from the top down, from the CEO to the shipping clerk so we could all support each other.
  • help our accounting department now manage this more flexible and fluid work environment and cut the time to create payroll.
  • Be easy to use, requiring little training for new staff

We launched our new online program in the Spring of 2013 with a company-wide orientation and training. We emphasized the features that our staff said were important to them. And because it was tied to an individual’s payroll, in order to get paid, it’s use, from day one, was a requirement.

It didn't take long for most staff to develop the habit of signing into the Availability Chart at the beginning of each day and when signing out articulating their accomplishments at the end of the day. Work plans and project lists grew. By studying each person’s work plan everyone could easily see the priorities of the company.

With TOVO our telecommuting staff are as “visible” as if they were sitting in the same office. Before when I couldn’t get ahold of a remote part-time staff member when I called, there were fumbling moments as they explained they weren’t clocked in. Even though I assured them I understood, it was awkward. Now I just check the Availability Chart, which is the dashboard for TOVO, to see if they are working before calling. It’s less frustrating for me and less frustrating for them.

The more we used the program the more we were able to customize it to be even more effective. For instance, when we added the Ask for Help feature, other members of the team started to step up and volunteer to help. Not only did this facilitate priority project completion in a timely manner but also valuable cross training opportunities. Team members were able to experience other parts of the business, which led to more career ladder opportunities within the organization.

Not everyone will like the new system, at least in the beginning. But if presented in the right way and used as a support mechanism, rather than a fault-finder, it will grow on everyone. And, as we learned, the few who left the company shortly after the introduction of the program, were staff we had already identified as not our most productive. When everyone’s productivity level became apparent to the whole team, those individuals did not like the accountability it required. Top-performers liked the opportunity to articulate their accomplishments. Marginal staff did not.

Your best staff will not only see this as an opportunity to get credit where credit is due but to share with all their fellow staff members their accomplishments. Before TOVO some individuals in my company viewed me in the same light as the Wizard of Oz…someone behind the scenes (remote in my case), pulling levers and making a lot of noise, but not that productive. Once my work plans, priorities and accomplishments were visible to all, I experienced a change in the way they valued my contribution to the company.

TOVO was not designed to be a “big brother” platform. If you want that, we recommend that you just sign up for an online time-clock system. TOVO was designed to promote communication, collaboration, efficiency and accountability - while at the same time providing a platform that allows for workplace flexibility. In the end, because you are able to provide a more humane workplace, you’ll be able to hire and keep the best employees, which after all is the secret to business success.

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The Online Virtual Office

The Online Virtual Office goes well beyond just providing the tools to allow for flexibility. It is…

The missing piece in your office suite of digital management tools

High-functioning small businesses use:

  • An online project-based management tool (such as Basecamp)
  • An online meeting program (such as Go-to-Meeting or Web Ex)
  • An online accounting package (such as Quickbooks)
Now there is an

online personnel management tool,

which promotes - in real-time
communication, collaboration, transparency and accountability

for ALL onsite and offsite staff, contractors and volunteers.

With the unique design of The Online Virtual Office you’ll discover that:

  1. Communication is easier and less frustrating when everyone can see who is currently working and who is not.
  2. Payroll and Project Report generation is a snap when time charts are automated.
  3. Collaboration is facilitated when individuals’ work plans, priorities and accomplishments are transparent to all.
  4. Productivity increases when on-site and off-site employees and consultants can communicate in real time.
  5. Employee motivation surges when praise is immediate and the whole team celebrates the completion of a project, the closing of a large sale or the initiation new efficiencies in real time.
  6. Staff satisfaction increases due to dynamic accountability systems that allow for flexibility both in time and location.
  7. Cost savings result when:
    1. employees and supervisors are automatically alerted to overtime or time record inconsistencies
    2. the hierarchy flattens due to the transparency that promotes both team members and supervisors to coach and support others.
    3. Supervisors can easily re-prioritize projects or add tasks when necessary

Features Include:

The Availability Chart™

A real-time snapshot of who’s currently working and what they are working on.

Dynamic, digital To-do lists

Everyone’s priorities are transparent to all so collaboration and teamwork is more efficient and effective.

Accomplishment reports

Both individual and company-wide, both daily and long term.

Progress Tracking of assignments and projects

Everyone in the organization can easily see what each person is working on and what’s been accomplished to date.

Detailed Time Records

Used for project reporting, funding accountability or payroll.

"Ask for Help" features

Used to maximize staff efficiency and provide cross training opportunities.


Last but not least, The Online Virtual Office addresses what other online management tools don't…

Small business management programs are only effective when

ALL staff use it daily!

Maybe you’ve tried an online management program already, only to discover the program could not deliver what it promised because not all staff used it or did so randomly. You got tired of cheer leading the benefits of the program and finally dropped it.

Everyone will use The Online Virtual Office!

Why? Unlike other online project management systems, this program is tied to your team members time charts and includes an optional reporting function for payroll purposes. Not only will you save hours of accounting time but, because it reports time-on-task to supervisors and the payroll department, EVERY person within your organization (employees and consultants) must consistently use this tool every day during the times they are working in order to get credit for the work they are doing. From this data you can easily track the number of hours spent on each project or task of your company so you can evaluate the "Return On Investment".

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The Online Virtual Office

What is the profile of a business that can benefit from The Online Virtual Office?

The Online Virtual Office is ideal for companies, departments and organizations:

  • of 2 to 40 employees, consultants and/or volunteers

  • where ALL staff, from the CEO to the mailroom use the basic features of The Online Virtual Office daily
  • that recognizes the best, most productive employees want flexibility in work schedules and locations
  • that want a low-cost, easy-to-use online personnel management tool that promotes communication, collaboration, transparency and accountability