June 23, 2021 How to Build Strong Culture when the Office is Optional with Larry English

Topcoder went fully virtual in 2013. Today’s Uprisor podcast guest founded a fully virtual company 20 years ago. Larry English is the president and co-founder of Centric Consulting, and author of “Office Optional: How to Build a Connected Culture with Virtual Teams“. Simply put, Larry is an expert in remote workforces and virtual collaboration.

He joins Topcoder VP Clinton Bonner to discuss:

  • What inspired him to eschew traditional office life before it was cool
  • How the pandemic has propelled the rise of remote working, and what comes next
  • Strategies for creating engagement and connection on hybrid workforces

Enjoy the conversation and check out highlights below.


Here’s a good question for companies considering letting their employees work from home: Do you trust them? Yes? Great. Can you extend that trust to platforms that can prove that they’re trustworthy? Likely. It’s probably just a mental shift, and there are things you have to do. The big step-through is realizing, “There are very good people out there who can help me succeed”. That trust opens the scope of how much you can say yes to, which is an exciting and liberating prospect.

“Trust your employees. Let them design their lives around what’s best for them, what energizes them, and make it okay as an organization for people to live their lives.” —Larry English


Larry talks about the many companies he worked with and how a lot of them were adapting early to working from home at the beginning of the pandemic. But the vast majority of companies were on the fence. In Larry’s words, they scrambled. They put in place whatever technology they needed to get by, and they figured out how to do it. But they couldn’t wait to get back to the office.

Yet, plenty of workers want to keep working remotely. So in order to keep them, organizations need to evolve their thinking. Taking a hybrid approach to where work happens is going to be important if you want to recruit and retain top talent.


Training leaders on how to lead virtually is crucial. It’s not only about checking in with people from a business standpoint, it’s also paying attention to and checking in from a personal perspective. Leaders must learn how to connect and communicate on a virtual level.

The same thing applies to employees. The virtual employee’s responsibility is to really learn how to be great at it. Larry highlights that there are characteristics and concepts that employees need to learn. While the growth of technology and tools have helped enormously in enabling companies to collaborate virtually, it all comes back to solid person-to-person communication and feedback.

Thank you to Larry for taking the time to offer your insights on fostering strong culture with remote and hybrid teams. For more Future of Work conversations, check out the Uprisor podcast. 

“You’re walking out at 10 PM to an empty dark parking lot, you’re the only car there and you’re like, “I’m going to do this for the rest of my life?” I came up with the idea of, “I’m going to go start something. I’m going to try and live this value system that I think is right.” —Larry English

Annika Nagy


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