Could your business benefit from going virtual? Using a virtual office instead of a physical one could boost productivity and morale within your business. A virtual office is essentially a shared online space where your employees can work and communicate in real-time. Virtual offices have the same functions and structures as physical offices, except of course that they don’t exist as physical spaces. This means your employees can still work as a team wherever they are in the world as long as they have a high-speed internet connection.
Why go virtual?
Not all businesses need a physical office. In fact, rental and utility costs can make having a physical office a sizable and often unnecessary expense for small businesses. This is particularly the case when your employees typically perform their duties outside of the office or on the move, due to the nature of your business. A virtual office allows your team to stick together and continue working no matter where they are, and the digital tools needed to set one up are affordable and easy to use for small or medium businesses. By storing your business applications and data in the cloud (non-physical computing resources) and equipping your employees with mobile devices, you’ll be able to run things just like you would in a physical office – but without the restricting factors of space and location.
How to begin
If your staff regularly use laptops, smartphones or tablets, you’re already halfway towards setting up a virtual office. Your next step is to combine these mobile devices with email, collaboration and productivity applications that operate from the cloud, rather than only in a certain location such as an office server.
You also want to stress to your staff that the virtual office should bring the team together, rather than letting them work apart. Popular cloud-based applications like Google Docs or Calendar allow your employees to edit documents or plan their schedules as one, cutting down on back-and-forth email chains and confusion over different file versions.
Video chat software maintains the face-to-face rapport of the physical workplace, even if you’re not in the same room as your workmate. By including these communication and sharing features in your virtual office you will help keep your employees functioning as a team, not just as individuals.
Virtual Office Do’s and Don’ts
- Use your time wisely. A virtual office cuts down on travel time to and from work, so use that extra time productively to access your virtual office apps or check in on your projects.
- Remind your employees that the more productive they are, the better-off everyone will be.
- Give your employees control. Access to cloud applications on their mobile devices – even their personal ones – means your employees can be more proactive and flexible in how they engage with customers, clients and other stakeholders.
- Let distance get in the way. Encourage the use of video chat and collaborative tools amongst your employees so they don’t forget they have a team to back them up. Face-to-face meetings are still vital – social events and get-togethers can be great for maintaining morale.
- Underestimate your staff. The freedom to work where and when you want is a powerful motivation factor. Empower your staff with the right tools and they’ll do what it takes to bring your business to the next level.