Due to the Shelter-In-Place orders designed to slow the spread of the Corona Virus, many businesses have been able to successfully transfer operations out of their crowded offices and into their employees’ homes.

While it’s still uncertain what the legal implications for employers are, one thing that is certain is that many employers are now loathed to go back to a conventional office environment. They are starting to realize considerable savings in overhead and reduced personnel issues.

We have a client who was able to transfer all his business to his employees’ homes within 48 hours of the shutdown. Amazing as that seems, he was also quick to notice mounting changes in his new remote work force.

Peer Support

For one thing, there was a notable absence of peer encouragement (which was easy to take for granted in a physical environment where other team members were constantly remarking on their successes and how they overcame objections and challenges). Now his people were alone!

People, especially in sales, need constant reassurance and evidence that “It can be done,” and “We are all rooting for you!” Sure, you can have virtual contests and even post the status of peers in a side bar.

But something is missing. It’s the sight, sound, and raw emotion of a really excited coworker who has just “broken the code” or finally “slayed the dragon”!  Those real world sights, sounds, and shared spontaneous experiences are essential to providing the encouragement your team needs to excel.


For another, he discovered that many of his people actually needed to dress for the day, commute to work and back, and see and be seen by their colleagues. The absence of that structure, schedule, and expectation started to affect the rigor that was required for them to be effective. Some folks need the enforced discipline of being observed and overseen while working.

Sure, there are Big Brother programs that keep track of your sign-in and sign-off times demonstrated by how often you move the mouse. But what does that tell your people about your trust in them? And is the loss of that trust even more counterproductive?


One of his biggest challenges of a remote workforce is how to maintain the company culture with a work-from-home team, as well as how to imbue that culture on to new employees who may have never worked in his previous office environment.

Many telecommuters could work anywhere and for anyone. There is suddenly less reason to identify with any particular company. “I do my job, I get paid, I log out!” and “If I can get paid more elsewhere for the same job, I’ll take it!” is the increasing mindset.

There are certain ways that the founder has discovered about how to treat customers and how to gain the cooperation of outside services that can easily get lost when folks work remotely. They are no longer exposed to the founder’s example on a regular basis and what’s worse, they can’t be monitored as easily.

So here we are in our brave new world of the remote workplace. These are just a few of the challenges beginning to appear. We have all been rocketed into the future where everything that can be done online is being done online. But, because we did not evolve to get there slowly and address these and other challenges as they made themselves known, we are missing some of the pieces.

Business Audio Theatre

One piece we personally are helping to solve is company cultural. Through our new onboarding tool, Business Audio Theatre, new employees will have a chance to learn about the founders history, challenges, and values. Rather than a narration, they will experience a theatrical performance with actors, action-packed scenes, and outcomes, complete with sound effects and an original musical score. They will be entertained while they learn the founder’s history and principles that make up the company that employs them.

By experiencing their company’s story in this way, they will be more likely to identify with, appreciate and emulate their company’s culture and values. This can dramatically increase engagement and significantly reduce turnover. “It’s not just a job! It’s the place I am proud to work!”

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.