More and more companies are starting a virtual business office in lieu of a physical one.
A virtual business office saves companies tons of money. They don’t have to rent an office space. Premium office space can cost over $200 per square foot.
Then there is the cost of maintenance to consider. A physical business office must be cleaned regularly. Any damage that the office space sustains must be identified and addressed.
Companies must also consider the cost of utilities. Many physical office spaces don’t include water or electricity as part of their rent.
Is a virtual business office right for your company? Check out our tips for collaborating with one below.
How to Collaborate With a Virtual Business Office
Thanks to the Internet, a virtual business office feels much like a physical one.
However, staffing and operating a virtual business office requires a slightly different process.
Let’s check out how you can collaborate with a virtual business office below.
Find People Who Work Well Remotely
Virtual business office workers should feel comfortable working away from co-workers. They should also have a reliable connection that isn’t constantly on the fritz.
Moreover, virtual workers should not be easily distracted. Some people find not having a boss around or being able to access Facebook and other popular Internet hang-outs a major distraction.
Additionally, some workers choose to go virtual because it allows them to stay home with their children. While their choice is understandable, you should beware of workers who work from home to be with their children. Some use work time to babysit.
Created An On-Boarding Process
Many physical business offices have an onboarding process for new employees. Common steps in the process include a tour, lunch with the team, and a rundown of a typical day’s duties.
Steps such as lunch a tour aren’t possible for virtual business offices.
In lieu, you should have an effective training program in place.
The program should include a detailed outline of all duties and responsibilities. It should also feature instructions on who to contact for further information. Emergency contact information is a must as well.
Videos, slideshows, and word processing documents are popular inclusions in virtual training programs.
Make Sure You Have The Right Tools
The key to a successful team is communication.
When it comes to virtual business offices, that communication is achieved through various tools.
Many virtual business offices use GitHub, Dropbox, and a Google Drive to share and collaborate on projects. They allow all those who have access to look at and make changes to files that others have uploaded.
A quick chat platform is needed in addition to e-mail. Quick chat platforms allow members to talk and reply more immediately than a thread of e-mails would. Popular quick chat platforms include HipChat and Slack.
Similarly, video conferencing is a must for all virtual business offices. Video conferencing allows workers to connect, talk, and see each other. It’s far more personal and professional than simply sending e-mails back and forth.
Free video conferencing platforms include Skype and Google Hangouts. BlueJeans and Vidyo are popular professional choices.
High-quality headsets are necessary for your team to get the most out of their video conferences. Headsets should be compatible with both your members’ computers and your platform of choice. They should also feature excellent speaking and listening feedback.
There is nothing more irritating than listening to an echo during a company video conference.
For more information on these and other tools, check out WorkSocial CoWorking. They can answer your questions and address your concerns.
Make Sure Everyone Has The Right Tools Open
E-mail, Facebook, Skype, HipChat — they’re all fine communication tools. Whether or not they work for you depends on your company, team, and line of work.
It doesn’t matter which tools your company implements. All workers should be aware that they need to have these tools open while on the clock.
Communication tools don’t work unless everyone is available to communicate at any given second while at work.
If a worker doesn’t have their tools open, they could miss an important message or question. The other person might not be able to work in the meantime. They may have to wait to get a response from that worker before continuing.
As such, make sure all of your workers are aware of the importance of these tools. Moreover, make sure they all understand that the tools must be open while they’re checked in.
Get Together In Person
Workers may be workers, but they’re also people.
People enjoy socializing. It allows them to bond with each other.
When workers bond, they feel like part of a family or circle of friends. That company-created bond, in turn, creates loyalty toward the company.
As such, your office should meet in-person if possible.
If your workers live relatively close — say, within a few hours — of each other, host a monthly in-person meeting. The meeting can allow all of you to touch base and answer any important questions.
If your workers live states apart, think about hosting an annual or bi-annual conference.
Many companies pick a hotel in which to host their conferences. In exchange for creating a conference block of rooms, hotels give discounted room rates to conference attendees.
Replicate Physical Office Elements When Possible
The idea of using a virtual business office entails simply replacing a physical one.
As such, workers expect it to function like its physical counterpart would. They want the same work life.
Facebook is a great tool for replicating the chatty atmosphere of a typical office.
Facebook allows members to create private groups that only members of the group can access. Invitations from group admins are the only way anyone outside the group can join.
Facebook’s interface makes for an enjoyable yet professional interaction.
Group members can share links to relevant articles or even random thoughts that pertain to their work. They can also post questions and get multiple answers fairly quickly.
Quick chat platforms operate much the same way.
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For more advice on creating and maintaining virtual business offices, please contact us!