Back in 2017, before working remotely was forced upon everyone, my wife and I decided to pack up everything we owned into a small storage space and take off on an adventure to see the world. We both worked remotely and decided to use that benefit to its fullest by traveling through the US and Europe for nearly a year while still working full time and meeting all our work obligations.
I’m not going to lie – it was one of the best times of our lives so far.
But this wonderful opportunity couldn’t have happened without a robust and functional virtual office to support us, and a team that understood how to run remotely.
What is a Virtual Office?
A virtual office typically refers to a combination of products and services that allow businesses to operate without a physical location. The traditional form of virtual office refers to a service that will provide a business with an address, a mail forwarding service, and some form of virtual answering service to handle phone calls. Sometimes, they also offered meeting rooms to rent by the hour in the event that physical space was needed. Regus is one of the most ubiquitous operators of virtual office services.
Today, the virtual office term has expanded to include the collection of tools and systems that companies can use to manage their entire business virtually and, according to Wikipedia, is “The operational domain of any business or organization whose workforce includes a significant proportion of workers using technology to perform their work at home.”
What Are the Benefits of a Virtual Office?
Provided that your business is in a sector that allows for a remote team, the benefits of a virtual office are too many to count! From financial savings to a happier team, there are very few drawbacks to running your team with a virtual office and allowing your staff to work from anywhere. In fact, there was a recent study that cites 82% of remote workers report lower stress levels after going remote as compared to commuting to an office.
Just a few of the benefits of a virtual office include:
- Financial – You will have a lower overhead due to downsizing or eliminating the physical office, and you can hire great talent from lower cost of living areas
- Flexibility – When your team is distributed across time zones, you will be able to increase your overall coverage hours due to overlapping schedules and expanded office hours.
- Geoarbitrage – Suddenly, when using a virtual office, your talent pool expands to anywhere in the world. You will be able to get the best talent for significantly less than the rates demanded in large metros.
- Higher productivity – This might seem counterintuitive for some managers, but moving to a virtual office can lead to a happier workforce with fewer distractions – both of which result in a more productive team!
- Peace of Mind – Often teams that implement a virtual office will also look to implement a virtual receptionist to handle their inbound calls. This is a match made in heaven as you will then be able to rest assured that your calls are being handled – wherever you are in the world.
Clearly, there is a lot to be gained from using a virtual office to run your business.
How to Keep Your Team Accountable in a Virtual Office
Keeping teams accountable and on-task are some of the biggest worries for businesses moving to a virtual office. But really they shouldn’t be! Some of the best ways to keep teams accountable are also some of the easiest: regular check ins, time tracking software, and open lines of communication all help to keep teams accountable.
What’s more, according to a survey conducted by SurePayroll, 86% of respondents say they hit maximum productivity when working alone. Their managers agreed; two-thirds reported workers are more productive than their in-office counterparts.
So what gives? Why are so many businesses worried about keeping teams accountable?
It all comes down to trust. If you trust your employees, then you likely don’t worry about this as much. If you don’t trust your teams, then you are likely going to be more concerned about oversight. The good news is that there are plenty of tools to help you keep tabs either way.
The Best Tools to Manage a Virtual Office
The best tools to manage a virtual office are ultimately the tools that you and your team use on a regular basis. Having the ‘perfect’ suite of tools won’t do you any good if no one uses them, and what works for your team may not work for my team.
For instance, here at Donna Digital Receptionists, we frequently use Google Hangouts for team calls, Google Docs for collaborative working, Slack for real-time communication, Calendly for scheduling, Loom for recording training videos, Asana for project management, our own virtual receptionist service for phone call answering, and Clockify for time tracking.
But that stack might not be the ideal set of tools for your business and team. Perhaps the best suite of tools for you are Zoom, Asana, and the Office suite. Each team has their own preferences and workflows, so find a suite of virtual office tools that work best for your team and stick with them.
How Can I Use a Virtual Receptionist in a Virtual Office?
Pairing a virtual receptionist with a virtual office service is a match made in heaven. Your virtual office set up will allow your team to work together and remain in sync from across town, across the country, or across the globe. But what happens when your business needs to take a phone call and your team is spread across separate locations?
That’s when a virtual receptionist comes in.
A virtual receptionist will operate just like an in-house receptionist, except they are not located in your office. They can handle phone calls, schedule appointments, screen callers, and capture leads while making sure that the most important calls get directed to the proper member of your team. Because of this digitally-native operation, a virtual receptionist will be able to work seamlessly with distributed teams who may or may not all be located in the same time zones.
Simply designate how you would like your calls to be handled, who should be contacted about which types of calls, and any other preferences that you have and your virtual receptionist will be able to take it from there and ensure that all your calls are handled professionally and efficiently.
Now, I know first hand how impactful it can be to have the freedom to work remotely and how important it is to have a virtual office and virtual receptionist system to ensure that your business keeps running smoothly.
If you’re interested in learning more about how a virtual receptionist can help your business, then click the button below to start a free trial and find out first hand.