Don’t you love acronyms? Figuring them out is almost as much fun as reading customized license plates and interpreting the message of the owner. To be honest, sometimes I make up what I think they are saying…. In I.T. (Information Technology) we speak in our own language, acro-geek (not quite Greek), and are masters at shortening words.

WAHOO was the name of my first initiative for creating a remote workforce. This was unheard of in a corporate arena, yet I thought it could be the answer to provide the breathing room needed to prevent the acquisition of another building or the creation of another “Tiny Town”. Tiny Town is what we called the areas in the company that squeezed in as many cubicles as possible into small spaces. These cubicles are about ½ the size of a “normal” cubicle and if you push your chair back from your desk, you find yourself in the middle of the isle. WAHOO became the hope for bringing on more people without the added expenses of physical space. It became an opportunity to think outside the box (yes, I know cubicles are a box….).

What is WAHOO anyway?
W(ork) A(t) H(ome) O(ffice) O(pportunity) – This program created a new way of doing business and expanded the company at a rapid rate. For the Pilot Program, people in key areas were selected by a draw to be given the first chance at participating and escaping “Tiny Town”. What was discovered from the pilot program were better than expected results. The WAHOO employees outperformed their onsite counterparts by an average improvement of 50%; Taking more customer service cases, creating more lines of code, processing more bits of data and selling more product.

The results lead to:
1) Reduced cost of expansion for 200+ employees, who could work anywhere in the nation
2) A new benefit for the employees was gained as they could do the work anytime within the 24-hour period of measurement (this really had a positive impact on employee retention)
3) The flexible schedule allowed the employee to be with their children or family when needed
4) The employees’ health improved and many were now able to workout at non-peak times at the gym
5) Travel time to and from the office was eliminated as was the use of fuel if they drove their car
6) Employee morale rose and they valued the opportunity (even to the point of protecting the privilege, insuring they always delivered on time and with quality).

The benefits of WAHOO, outweighed the challenges of building the foundation, infrastructure, metrics for managing the teams and setting up a virtual community. It launched a new era and allowed for the creation of virtual teams across the country. What I learned from this venture, brought the underpinnings for adopting SharePoint as it furthered the ability for teams to collaborate, share information, and brought visibility/transparency to all levels of an organization. Today, any small business can benefit from the WAHOO path forged by a bigger company and tools like SharePoint make it affordable.

About Your Columnist

Linda Amaro is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers topics, tips and tricks surrounding The Virtual Office and using Microsoft SharePoint to improve collaboration. Linda Amaro, has been in the Information Technology (IT) industry for over 30 years and has risen to the position of CIO in the corporate arena managing multiple departments with over 150 staff members and projects for tier one customers ranging from $2.5 million to $20 million. In 2010, she started Klarinet Solutions, a SharePoint consulting firm that provides SharePoint Design, Site Branding, Workflow Automation, On-Line Forms Development, Document Management, Custom Development and Business Intelligence.

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