Businesses everywhere are racing to adapt to the digital age, and most of them are now in the process of discovering that they need a virtual office. A virtual office, or the ability to conduct business digitally without needing a physical real estate location to center your operations within, can help you cut back on the costs of doing business while also ensuring that customers view you as a tech-savvy, forward-thinking company of the future.
Building a virtual office takes time, effort, and a commitment from the company's leader. When done appropriately, though, establishing a virtual office almost always pays off. Here's how to build your virtual office, and what mistakes to watch out for as you do so.
Know the tech that you'll need
The first step in building a virtual office is determining what your core business functions are before investing in technology that enables you to fulfill those core functions without the need of a physical, real-world office. If you provide legal advice to individuals, for instance, building a virtual office would consist of creating a blog or similar website where clients can solicit and receive your feedback digitally instead of heading to an actual building to do so in person. For a merchant, establishing a virtual office may mean creating or joining a website that allows vendors to market goods to consumers which are purchased online and shipped to them without the need to walk into a store.
Nobody can tell you what kind of tech your virtual office will need - instead, you have to ask yourself what your purpose as a business is, and from there try to find those technologies which will help you fulfill that purpose in as effective and affordable a fashion as possible. Besides needing great technology to rely on, you'll also want skilled employees. Those business owners who don't pay enough attention to hiring an excellent team might as well give up now, because without stellar workers to rely upon your virtual office will seldom amount to much.
That's why it's important to set some time aside to read up on building a productive team for a virtual office. Being able to recruit budding talent that will prove essential to the longevity of your virtual office is only the first step, however. You'll also need to be able to retain these workers, and every good business owner will need to learn how to facilitate communication between workers who are tasked with similar responsibilities but separated by vast geographic distances. This is one of the reasons so many virtual offices end up hiring "digital receptionists," or those individuals who answer your calls and emails while also directing employees to their orders when the boss is personally unavailable.
Consider coworking arrangements
The term virtual office is supposed to refer to an all-digital business that doesn't have a physical location, but these days many people use the term in a disparate fashion. Some argue that coworking arrangements can and should be considered virtual offices, for instance. A coworking arrangement is when a business rents out a major office to multiple other businesses are once, so that employees from a wide variety of companies all go to work in one centralized office location that's not under the direct purview of any of them.
Under this definition of a virtual office, you need to select a virtual office that you'll share with other companies. While some entrepreneurs are turned off by this idea, others realize that it's an ideal way to save on the costs of doing business while also allowing your employees to creatively collaborate with a wide variety of professionals who work elsewhere. When relying on such a coworking arrangement, ensure that the physical location is up to your personal standards and work hard to ensure that your employees have access to robust IT infrastructure they can depend upon.
Building your virtual office demands an involved business owner more than anything else. You'll have to make tough calls, like deciding which software to use or which website provider to rely upon, but with careful decision-making you'll eventually arrive at an ideal work arrangement. Before long, your virtual office will be the envy of your industry.