Virtual offices are an increasingly popular workplace environment. As technology continues to allow for work to be done outside of the standard office space, here are some of the most important tools that allow for us to work remotely:
- Virtual Private Network (VPN)- A VPN allows for you to establish a private secure network on the public network that you are working on. With a VPN you can go to a coffee shop and use the public Wi-Fi that they have set up and secure your connection through it. This will allow for you to safely use a public internet connection without having to worry about hackers, spyware, etc. stealing valuable information or disrupting your business.
- Cloud Storage- Cloud storage allows for a team to all share and access documents, presentations, and other digital resources from any location. It allows for everyone to see the same files and collaborate and work on them together. Instead of having to have one person view another person’s computer screen or print out files to give to someone directly (which is not only less useful it is also more expensive) instead everything could be in a shared storage drive that allows for endless digital copies to be made and where everyone can view and work on the same thing from different places.
- Messaging Services- A dedicated company messaging service is necessary to keep everyone together at all times. In an organization without a dedicated office space everyone needs to be able to communicate in a moments notice. The luxury of being able to walk over to someone else’s desk or office does not exist. So instead you must have reliable means of connection. A messaging service such as Slack, Skype, Teams, WhatsApp, etc. This will allow for instant communication through file sharing of documents, imagines, PDFs, etc. Conference calls through both voice and video, allowing for meetings to take place. Grouping of people into teams to structure lines of communication better and foster the growth of ideas. A messaging service allows for you to replace one of the most convent features of a physical office space with a simple app or service.
- Email- Email is the original virtual messaging service that allows for communication among those that are not together in the same physical place. And while a message service like the one’s stated above are great, they do not replace email. Email is necessary to communicate with people outside of your network (also for certain occasions inside of it too). Potential clients and outside collaborators won’t have the same access to you just as they would in the physical office world. In the physical office you have your employees and then you have the outside world of clients and collaborators. Some spaces of the office could be open to clients, but the whole office would not. This is where email comes in for your virtual office. You do not want clients and collaborators in your messaging service communications (outside of maybe a video or voice chat that is restricted and controlled) but you want to be able to communicate with them none the less. This is where email is most useful in the virtual office, allowing for you to communicate with clients and outside workers in the way you control.
- Co-Working Space- Even though you have this great list of digital tools stated above to run your virtual office. You are going to want to have a space where you have the physical ability to meet up and get work done. If the local coffee shop or someone’s home does not work, then invest in a co work space. It is cheaper than having to rent an office space, and you only pay for the time that you are there versus every second of every day. This will allow for you to have the physical that you may need from time to time.
These are five tools that you can use to run a successful virtual office. Not all offices are the same and have the same needs. But the five resources listed above will fit most virtual office needs as is or with some tweaks depending on the organizations industry, size, and location or locations.