Wednesday, December 23, 2015

20 Ideas to Build Your Small Business Virtual Office in the New Year

virtual office, business phone answering service, phone answering service

Thanks to innovations surrounding the internet, mobile phones as well as email and messaging services, many people are now finding it easier than ever to leave their office and create their very own virtual office at home or on the move. We are one of the oldest and trustworthy virtual office service providers in Australia and we believe that there are myriad of products or service ideas on the market that can make your business life simpler by offering you multiple ways to send files, take calls and make those important deals go through smoothly. Here are some worth sharing ideas:

1. Cloud Services 

When the idea first came about for cloud services, many people saw it as a little fad for a way of backing up their work with some online storage. But the cloud has moved on since then, offering Microsoft Word, Google Apps, Photoshop and a host of other applications that no longer rely on installation on a single computer, which makes cloud computing service great for businesses. So, why don't you move to cloud services and enjoy its multiple benefits?


2. VOIP telephone services

Many businesses now see the benefits of setting up VOIP services and cut the costing in their landline telephone system. These Voice Over Internet Protocol services allow for massive amounts of traffic to your network which is handled by a single computer at a time. Automated switching and voice messaging is one place that has taken off in a big way with virtual offices around the world.

3.Combined scanner, fax, email and photocopier

Storing your paperwork can always be a bit of a hassle when it comes to high turnover businesses, so keeping a record that can be easily accessed is a great way to keep on top of your finances, clients and overheads. Combined scanners, faxes and photocopiers allow you to backup all of your important paperwork, name the individual files by date and time and place them in multiple safe storage locations to make searching for important documents easier than ever.

4. Use virtual meeting software

Need to call a meeting with your other virtual office workers around the globe? Then take advantage of the host of virtual office software out there that can set up video calls, share software over an Internet connection and work on files and projects together in real time. These services have taken off in a big way for the creative industries where collaboration is a key factor in everyday working environments.

5. Use a VPN service for an intranet

Whilst most static offices have intranets that allow for workers to connect to databases to perform their duties, you can start using VPNs for workers outside of the network to connect to. If you are a virtual office business you can also create a virtual intranet to host your databases, files and documents on several different platforms, allowing your workers to connect directly to your company network.

6. Virtual offices need a virtual storefront

If your business is a public-facing entity that offers services to the public or clients, then having a place for your clients to visit is a must. But having a virtual office means that you may have no physical offices at all which is why taking your internet site, blog or page must be done seriously. This is the single place where outsiders will find you and interact with you for the first time, so creating a user-friendly design will set you in good form for the future business. 

7. Add a personal touch

Even though the majority of your business may be concluded in a virtual realm, on the phone, via email or virtual network it is often a great idea to meet new clients and customers in person for the first time. This will give new customers a personal touch that they will notice and take you more seriously. It is far easier to cancel a deal via email, but when meeting face to face it gives a personal touch to every appointment you make.

8.Be as organised as you can

One thing can be said for virtual office advantages and disadvantages and it is that you simply must be super organised. Getting things done right can be a pain even when you are in a physical office where you can talk face to face with people, so putting distance between you and your co-workers can sometimes be a nightmare. This is where good virtual apps and video calls come in to save the day, ensuring that everyone is working to the same beat.

9.Ensure everyone has a dedicated workstation

Making sure that everyone working for your virtual business has at least one dedicated workstation is a great way to ensure some form of work ethic will remain as your workforce may be more fluid than a stationary office. Virtual office space is important, so work with your colleagues to find a professional solution for their requirements.

Virtual office pros and cons come into force when workers are spending the majority of their time on the road or interviewing people, so allowing them to come back to a dedicated location to “sign in” on a regular basis will preserve good working practices throughout your virtual business.

10.Use instant messaging services for live messaging

Instant messengers are one of the best virtual office solutions for new companies, as getting in touch with workers and colleagues when you need them most is one of the great advantages of working in a virtual environment. The virtual office definition is such that you won’t need any face to face communication with clients or colleagues so long as they are always reachable.

11. Shop around for your services

Many businesses don’t shop around for their virtual office services as often as they should, so the next time your billing comes in for virtual call services or messaging systems, be on the look-out for special deals. A virtual office doesn’t have to cost a small fortune, and in fact creating a virtual office with free services is possible for those start-ups that do not have masses of capital.

12. Use group chat services to your advantage

Organising group meetings and messaging services can seem like a nightmare to set up initially, but by creating a live chat system for your entire workforce you are able to cut down on the complexities that could leave you scratching your head. There is a lot of reasons you should consider to use live chats and leave them open to organise your teams and allow the free flow of messages to help your workers have organic conversations about your business - a must for creative industries.

13. Use document sharing services

One of the best ways to keep up to date about the projects happening in your business is to use the services of online document sharing solutions. With virtual apps like Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive you are able to store a large amount of data for free - with terabytes of storage available for a fee if you need the space.

Doing so will free up space on your worker's computers, and allow them to access the files and folders from any device on the road - be it a mobile phone, tablet or another computer in another office.

14. Create an office telephone number for your small business

Many small businesses and working at home companies still rely on their home phone number for contact with their business. This can be a cheaper option for some but will leave your personal and working life open to difficulty if not taken care of.

Many virtual office workers create a private business line in their home or use a host of services to give you a virtual number on which to take calls.

15. Set yourself strict office hours

Even though you may not work in an office, you still have to work! So setting yourself strict office working hours and keeping to them will be an important test on how your working life balance will hold up. If you are having problems with sticking to a routine, why not choose a different location to work from or create a permanent office environment in your home to keep you on the right path.

16.Hire a virtual call service to take your calls

One of the best ways to ensure that you are always available for your clients without leaving them hanging on busy phone lines it to hire a virtual call service to take your calls. Virtual call services will be able to route your calls to a specific mobile device if your home or office number is busy, as well as greet your customers with a customised message and take voice messages for you.

You will be notified of calls, numbers, who is calling as well as having voice messages forwarded to a mobile device. Call logs will be handled in a professional manner and you will sound and feel like you have moved up the professional small business ladder overnight!

17.Professionally handle paying your employees

One thing that many freelancers and virtual office workers suffer from is an unreliable system of payroll. One great way to handle paying your workers is to automate your payroll system based on a number of factors you can customise such as working hours, days missed, the volume of work produced as well as holidays and overtime on projects.

Handling your payroll professionally will ensure that your workers and your clients will remain happy and that they see the virtual business as a professional, trustworthy company and not a virtual company run from a back bedroom in another country.

18. Host regular team meeting events

Although you may all work virtually from home or another office, taking the time out on a regular basis to get the whole team together will work wonders for morale, as well as being able to oversee projects with a personal touch.

Use team building exercises and days out to get together with your team of co-workers and you will find that your workers may work better together in the future and allow them to understand each other better when working on new projects.

19. Be flexible in where and when you work

Sometimes taking time out to clear your mind can be a great idea when working long hours, which is why so many people prefer working in a different environment rather than a dull, grey office. But taking too much time out can start to have a negative effect. Try different locations to work from and see which suits you best.

You might find that you get more done in a coffee shop than your back room home office, whilst others might work best pulling up a workstation in a client’s office. Either way, test out your surroundings and be more flexible with the location of where you perform the majority of your work.

20. Travel and see your clients environments

One of the great things about being able to work in a virtual office is that it gives you enough time to travel to see what your business actually does. Travel and meet your clients in their own environments and understand the local market more.
If you offer services that relate to a specific town or region then having the chance to visit, research and find out more about the target audience is a great tool in boosting your virtual office sales and will help create new clients in an already-tested market.

Fantastic opportunities are out there for your small business, so why not move all of your office applications to the cloud. Hire a call service that can handle your calls efficiently and professionally and move your daily tasks to a virtual world to compete in the fluid markets of the future. This time next year you could be a completely virtual office that runs things more efficiently and more effectively than ever before.

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