How To Create And Manage A Virtual Office

For many modern businesses, having a physical office is overkill. If a company has a fully dispersed workforce, doesn’t or rarely sees customers face to face, or handles most of its business online, offices are generally unnecessary.

The situation is similar for people who work by themselves, or with just one or two people. For these businesses, having a virtual office may be the best solution. These tips will help you create and manage a virtual office.

Decide What You Need

The first step to a successful virtual office is understanding what it needs to accomplish. Will the business be taking phone calls, responding to emails, making sales? Is this the organizational side of a business, where accounting, social media management, and website maintenance are being handled? Without knowing what needs to be set up, it’s virtually impossible to set it up properly.

Virtual Receptionist or Assistant

Many businesses that opt for a virtual office also choose to employ a virtual receptionist or virtual assistant. This person may take incoming calls, manage calendars, schedule meetings, and respond to emails. They may double as a social media manager, or keep website information up to date. They might also coordinate other freelancers that work with the business, such as writers, graphic designers, or sales staff.

Like a traditional assistant, this person is often juggling multiple tasks and manages many of the small details so that the employees of the company can stay focused on their jobs.

Toll Free Numbers

If a company is going to work with customers, having a toll free number is a key part of having a virtual office. Toll free numbers help companies look professional; this contact method indicates that people are working with the company from across the United States. They may also be easier to manage than a regular phone number, especially if you are having calls routed to a wide-spread workforce. Toll free numbers can be built into phone trees, and better for businesses overall.

Get A Mailing Address

Another way to give a business a professional appearance is to make sure it has a proper mailing address. Much like having a toll free phone number to call, customers want to know that they can reach someone by phone if they need to, whether they just want to correspond by mail, or they need to return a package. Even if a customer will absolutely never come to your office, not having an address on your website looks shady.

Once you have your virtual office set up, you need to consider how you’ll manage it.

Where Will You Have Meetings?

Every so often, almost all offices will need to schedule a meeting with a client, sit down for an interview, or work with a local employee for training. When this happens, businesses should have a plan for where it will happen.

A company might find that paying for a few desks in a local co-working space entitles them to using the conference room. Some businesses will also rent out their conference rooms when they aren’t being used. Having a plan means that there will be less scramble when something unexpected happens.

Who Will Work Where?

For companies that have a fully dispersed workforce, all meetings, communication, and work assignments will happen digitally. But some companies run hybrid offices; a few key personnel work in one consolidated office, often through a coworking space, while the bulk of the staff works remotely. It is important to know which employees will need to be centralized, and which ones can be dispersed without affecting business operations.

How Will Teams Build Relationships

For solopreneurs, this isn’t an issue. But companies that have multiple employees or freelancers who need to work together, it’s important to consider how people will get to know each other. When groups work together, they will work more seamlessly if they have a good relationship.

There are a wide variety of programs out there which serve as both in-office social media and task and information distribution. By using these programs to communicate within a team, people can get to know each other better so that they work together better.

Be Flexible About Hours

One of the biggest benefits of remote working in a virtual office is that employees can flex their time around as needed. Employers destroy that benefit if they demand that everyone be available from 9 to 5 every day. If employees are in different time zones, this may be flat out impossible.

Instead, businesses should focus on great communication to get the most out of their virtual office. Ensure that employees know what is expected of them, what time deliverables must be complete, and what is expected of them. By focusing on task management and communication, businesses can get the most out of creating and managing a virtual office.