Top 7 Must-Have Tools for a Virtual Office
With so many companies relying on telecommuting for their everyday activities, the need for a virtual office is greater than ever before. As many as 25% of all workers in virtually all fields now work from home. The numbers continue to increase every year. As many as 95% of employees have reported a desire to work from home at least part-time.
Not only is a virtual office convenient, but it’s also less expensive than a traditional office. In general, companies that rely on a traditional office need to spend money on rent, equipment and support services that aren’t really necessary with a virtual office.
In order to effectively run your business, however, you need to make sure your virtual office has all of the tools necessary to support your day to day operations. If your team doesn’t have the must-have tools that will ensure the good functionality of a virtual office’s day to day operations, you’ll lose money and credibility.
Here are 7 of today’s must-have tools for a virtual office.
Secure, High-Speed Internet
It may seem a bit obvious, but having a fast, stable and secure connection is incredibly important for anyone doing business. You can’t afford to have breakdowns in communications. You also don’t want to encounter unnecessary delays in reports, emails and group updates. Whether you’re on a conference call or waiting on an important email, the last thing you want is slow internet access. All it takes for your entire business to slow down is a few internet speed issues.
You also want to make sure your internet is secure. You may not be communicating about trade secrets, but you still need to make sure your company’s information is secure. Your clients and partners are relying on your communications being secure and protected. Fortunately, if you do decide to invite your client or partners into a meeting hosted in a virtual office you will have access to fantastic internet. You will also have all the perks of the internet connection if you choose to work from the virtual office.
Virtual Call Answering/Voicemail
Just because you don’t have a traditional office doesn’t mean you don’t need a virtual secretary or receptionist. You need to make sure you have a dedicated phone number with virtual call answering. This ensures that your clients and customers are able to reach you at all times of the day or night. A good call answering service will be able to take messages, handle incoming and outgoing calls, and even handle your appointment scheduling if need be.
Bring Your Own Device Policy
Unless you’re managing a very large company, it’s a good idea to maintain a “Bring Your Own Device” policy. Each member of your team is responsible for providing and maintaining their own laptops and any other devices they use to conduct business. You don’t want to be responsible for providing all of this equipment to your staff if you don’t have to. Luckily, most virtual office providers allow you to bring your own devices and to make use of their other serviced office offerings for a fee.
You’re going to be collaborating with your team on a daily basis. You’re going to need a reliable and user-friendly collaboration tool. A Cloud collaboration tool lets your whole team work together on the same project.
They can see real-time updates from each team member. Employees can add notes, ask questions and write comments without having to email or fax copies of the project back and forth. They can share ideas and comment on projects without interfering with each other’s work. Some popular Cloud collaboration tools are Github and ActiveCollab. \
Even though most (or all) of your work will be done through your virtual office, you still need a physical address. In order to operate as a legal company, you have to register for and maintain an address for your business. Not only is this required for legal reasons, it also lends a sense of credibility to your business.
When engaging with new and potential clients, you want to have an address for your company. This also gives your company affiliation with a certain locale. While you can maintain multiple addresses for your company, you do want to have one, principal address. Make sure all team members use the registered address on their work-related documents and communications.
Web Conference Apps
In a traditional office setting, your management, sales and marketing teams get to meet as often as they like. They can share ideas and identify potential problems. Since your team won’t be meeting face-to-face, it’s important that you have a user-friendly web conference app. Your team can use this software to attend virtual conference calls and other meetings. It’s important that your company provide a way for your employees to meet to discuss projects and important issues. A web conference app allows your team to get together and story-board, brainstorm, and share ideas.
Standard Office Spaces
There are some great companies that offer virtual office spaces. You can pay to share offices, conference rooms and support services in an established and professional office setting.
You pay based on a monthly basis and the total cost depends on the services you need. If you want to meet with clients, entertain potential clients and hold regional office meetings there are meeting rooms you can book for an additional fee. Services which are available include telephone support, secretarial services and other accommodations, according to your needs. There are virtual offices in most, if not all, major cities and towns.
If your company is growing, it may be time to consider a virtual office. A virtual office offers all of the benefits of a traditional office without the high price tag. It’s great for companies that have employees located in different parts of the world or solo entrepreneurs that simply want to keep their address private. Your team members can collaborate from the convenience of their own home.
Virtual offices today aren’t as limited as they were just ten years ago. As long as you have the 7 must-have tools listed above, you won’t have to worry about communication issues with your team members. Communicate with clients, partners and customers without being tied down to a physical office.