By James Clift
So, you’ve finally committed to keeping things remote.
You thought about the cost of office space, how employee time, capacity, and joy is affected by long commutes, and you thought about the future--what it looks like, what it feels like, and where your business stands within it.
You know the virtual office isn’t just about saving money on corporate expenses. You understand the value this kind of freedom brings your team and the ways that this freedom can have a positive impact on their work.
You’re ready to do it. You’ve called your realtor. You’re handing in the keys.
But setting up a virtual office isn’t as simple as just getting rid of a physical space.
Your team needs communication tools, productivity training, and collaboration techniques for remote work.
If you want to commit to remote work long term, then you need to take the time to set up your virtual office correctly.
What to know when going remote
Taking your business fully remote is a great way to give yourself and your employees freedom, flexibility, and trust.
That being said, not everyone thrives in a remote environment.
When setting up your virtual office, take time to explain new procedures and explore new collaboration tools. Likewise, it’s a good idea to involve your employees in the decision-making process, as their productivity is essential to your business.
Make time to train your staff
Whether you’re choosing a new software or implementing new remote collaboration systems, make sure you train your employees on all changes and updates.
Talking with your staff about the pros and cons of new tools, or how their remote experience is going will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your virtual office.
Pros of remote work:
- Schedule flexibility
- No commute time
- Comfort of home
Cons of remote work:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Time management issues
- Loss of collaboration
Staying up-to-date with the needs of your employees will help you build a successful virtual office.
Prioritize productivity, not presence
One of the great benefits of the virtual office is the ability to create your own schedule. It’s important to remember that different people have different ways of working and not everyone thrives in a 9-to-5 environment. Keeping open communication with your employees is one way to understand how they approach their remote workday.
What you don’t want to do is become a helicopter boss that schedules useless meetings and panics every time they see a worker’s Slack status go offline.
Remember, presence is not productivity and just because your employee is offline, doesn’t mean they aren’t working. They may be in a deep work session or taking the time they need to work on an idea.
Remote communications look different
Without the ability to jump over to your teammate’s desk to ask a question, or taking time in a conference room to work over a new idea, employees may feel cut off from their wider departments.
To ensure everyone is communicating effectively, take the time to choose the right communication software for your team. An effective communication software is one that is accessible to all users, streamlines internal communications, and does not affect worker efficiency or productivity.
Likewise, many modern workers are finding themselves bogged down by late-night, after-hours communications. This can contribute to burnout or a loss of productivity.
One easy way to avoid this issue is to schedule messages on Slack to ensure you aren’t creeping into your employee’s alone time.
Give your team the space and tools they need to succeed and your virtual office will be up and running in no time.
How to set up your virtual office
An effective virtual office is one that has the necessary tools to ensure communications are getting through but doesn’t bog down employees who are trying to do good work.
Likewise, it’s important to factor in the personal lives of your employees and understand that the scenario you’re entering into has different expectations than a physical office would.
Get your tools together
Collaboration tools, communication tools, and cloud storage are important aspects of the virtual office.
When thinking about investing in new tools and software, you need to keep your business goals top-of-mind.
If you’re a PR company, then having strong team collaboration tools is essential.
If you’re managing a team of developers or programmers, it might be more important to have strong file sharing methods and cloud storage.
In addition, remote communication is essential. So be sure to include a communication platform in your suite, where your employees can easily share ideas, get in touch, and stay connected as a remote team.
Whatever your business goals, there’s a software out there for you. Do your research, discuss options with your team, and keep tools to a necessary minimum-- no one wants to be managing ten different platforms at the same time.
Check your connection
If you’re planning to go fully remote, then having a strong internet connection is essential.
A strong connection will ensure your video calls, conferences, file uploads, and more will be speedy, efficient, and without lag.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your team about their internet connections. Let them know that the backbone for your virtual office is the ability to connect online and they should prioritize a plan that will deliver the speed and strength they need to succeed.
Create a virtual address
Setting up a business address will not only allow you to receive mail, but it also allows you to be present on Google Business which is very important for SEO. It’s also necessary if you are incorporated, or are planning to be.
If you don’t have a physical address available to you, you can always set up a virtual address. This will help build your credibility as a virtual business and ensure you are compliant with any corporate laws.
Help your team
Don’t leave your team hanging when setting up your virtual office.
Create a culture of open communication, where workers feel empowered to bring up any issues they may be having with the new virtual workspace.
Likewise, as a leader, you should be constantly monitoring your processes and finding ways to improve them.
A successful virtual office is one that is working for everyone, not just working for some.
Keeping team productivity in mind is your best bet at staying on this course.
Working remotely, especially when working from home, can come with a whole host of barriers and challenges.
Learning how to manage your time without the presence of others is difficult.
Remembering to take breaks, make time for deep work, and connect with your colleagues can be overwhelming.
Staying organized in a virtual office means finding out what processes work for you, and what don’t.
Once you understand your unique needs, you can find ways of improving your environment, through software integrations such as a smart calendar that can update your status to Do Not Disturb when working, or a feature like Holopod that mutes your Slack channels so you can find more time to focus.
Whatever your tricks are, keep working on them. Improve whenever possible.
And, if you’re having trouble, talk to your team. See what insights they may have for successful remote work.Looking for more ways to improve your virtual office productivity? Try Holopod to get your team back on track, without the distractions of Slack.