You know, most businesses consider the office environment to be the conventional way of working.
But, with the rising costs of office space, many businesses are starting to look for other ways of working to reduce costs… and the concept of “flexible working” is gaining popularity. Technology has opened up possibilities we never dreamed about 20 years ago.
Virtual offices let employees work remotely from a location they choose such as their home, a café or a park where they can use the internet. Although, I’d perhaps recommend keeping a restriction on where they work from.
The main reason for choosing a virtual office is price; it’s cheaper to work virtually than renting space in a city. This is often the driving factor for start-ups and small businesses opting for virtual space. Employees may prefer this option when they relocate or have children. Some businesses prefer to work virtually initially, changing to a physical space when they’re more profitable. Employees can also benefit from virtual working to reduce travel costs.
Some businesses may be geographically spread across many countries. In such cases, a permanent office space does not make sense and a virtual office setup is a perfect solution.
Every business strives to make its employees happy. Allowing employees to work virtually means they get to spend more time with their family. This flexibility makes an employee happier and more productive, although you’ve got to make sure you monitor their productivity. It’s far too easy to get distracted around the home; they end up going to make a cup of tea and have a chat with the wife, then spend a few minutes playing with the kids before getting back into their home office. Before you know it, it’s taken them half an hour to make a cup of tea.
Granted, they no longer arrive at work after a stressful, train or bus journey – they can simply work while feeling relaxed and happy. You can help monitor their productivity by checking in regularly (but don’t be a micro-manager) and having regular video conferences; Skype makes that ridiculously easy and it’s zero cost.
That brings me on to the IT infrastructure you have… it’s key to running a virtual office effectively. Obviously this depends on your requirements; you might not need a shared storage drive (but even if you do, they’re extremely cheap these days – Dropbox for one allowing your team to have a huge amount of storage space for peanuts a month…it saves you £1000’s on managing a server). Your email solution should be robust too. Office 365 makes a great hosted Exchange Solution for Small Businesses, and again, a fraction of the cost of having an in-house server and 100x the reliability.
Obviously you need to make sure your Employees have good broadband connections, and it’s most effective to ensure they have secure computers provided by you, and a proper desk/chair.
There are a few other things to look out for as well; if this is something you’re considering, give me a call on 01708 250 748 and let’s talk.
This post was written by M3evolve
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