Creating Your Virtual Office Space
As a budding entrepreneur, renting a space, buying furniture and staffing a whole office may be a daunting task. So, with the internet at your fingertips, why not just run a virtual one? It’s cheaper, efficient, and your hiring isn’t limited to a small geographic area. However, if you want to run a productive virtual space, you have to take time to create it in a way that invites collaboration and communication. Consider these 4 aspects of the traditional office as you build your virtual space.
The Professional Environment
An office makes people productive because it’s professional. You go to work, sit at your desk, and get your work done. However, working from home, a café, or co-working space will provide a less professional environment, potentially making it difficult to feel like a real business. While keeping a strict working schedule with your employees will be the first step, there are three other aspects that can bring the professional feel to your business.
- VOIP phone services: Consider getting a 1-800 number through an internet phone service. Not only will this make teleconferencing easy, but you’ll look professional to customers, clients and new employees.
- Wardrobe: On days that you’re connecting via video, or presenting to other employees, wardrobe should be professional. This gets everyone in the right mindset, regardless of where you are.
- Email software: All businesses have some sort of company email that all employees work from. Be sure to set this up, as opposed to relying on personal employee emails.
An office provides a sense of community – you are close with your coworkers and managers, with whom you interact on a daily basis. However, working remotely means you will rarely see one another’s faces or talk in any format other than email. Thus, you’ll need to put forth an effort to build this community, which can enhance employee satisfaction leading to greater retention rates.
- Chatting: Enlisting apps like Gchat or Digsby is a cheap and effective way to stay in communication all day, effortlessly.
- Private social page: Some social networks, like Facebook, allow you to create private accounts that can only be seen by the members. Consider setting this up for employees to be social with one another outside of working hours.
It’s assumed that when you get hired in an office they will supply you with all the tools you need to get your work done. Therefore, having the right tools is integral to making your virtual office work; you’ll need to share documents, presentations, invoices, etc. While there are a number of options and specifications that will vary from business to business, there are two critical pieces to this puzzle.
- Document sharing: You’ll want to have everyone’s documents in one place so everyone can view them when needed. This will be beneficial during meetings when employees need to reference specific items.
- Computer software: It seems basic, but you’ll need to provide the necessary software, such as Microsoft Office. If employees are doing presentations, editing documents, etc., you all need to have the proper software to do so.
The Conference Room
Slowly but surely, collaborating is becoming more and more important in the modern office. However, working remotely leaves out the option of meeting in a conference room when it’s time to work as a team. Therefore, getting the proper equipment installed will be necessary.
- Real time editing: Programs like Google Drive allow you to upload documents and collaboratively edit it in real time.
- Meeting software: You’ll need to meet face to face occasionally, and webinar software will be necessary to do this. Be sure everyone is equipped with a camera and access to the program you’re using.
Running your business from a virtual office is not only cost effective, but allows for greater flexibility. Still, there are necessary components if you hope to run it like a traditional office space; get those in place and you’ll be ready to start work.
Jessica Sanders is an avid small business writer touching on topics that range from social media to business management. She is a professional blogger and web content writer for ResourceNation.com.