Few businesses are as spread out as MySQL, which employs 320 workers in 25 countries, 70 percent of whom work from home.
How on earth do these virtual organizations get anything done? Management gurus have been preaching since the early days of Peter Drucker that workers must be organized into corporations with strict boundaries (between, for example, employees and customers) and a centralized physical plant (the headquarters). Based on those criteria, a remotely controlled entity such as MySQL begins to look no more managerially sophisticated than, say, your average garden club.
But peer inside such an oddly configured company, and you’ll find someone at the top who has thought very deliberately about how to execute effectively in the virtual world, managing communications resources and human ones in such a way as to keep participants feeling valued and connected. As pioneering as those folks may be, they are hardly soft-headed idealists.