There is a common misconception that virtual offices are only useful for micro companies, one-employee companies, or sole traders.
This simply isn’t true. Depending on the type of business you run, you may not ever need physical office space. A virtual office can be used as a hub, a central point that is recognisable to your customers. You can meet clients there, but it is not a location your workforce calls home.
By doing this, you have the ability to hire staff without geographical limitation, hire for a specific need and pay more to attract the best talent (after all – you are saving money on a physical office!)
Unless all of your business is conducted via mobile, it is important to have a robust telephone system in place. Traditionally when sharing a physical office, all members of the team would be connected to one network within the confines of four walls.
Mimic this easily by using a VoIP. Give each employee their own handset and DDI (this can be a local number to where your virtual office is located) and connect to the internet in their home office. Transferring calls is easy, and through your VoIP provider you can set up a number of rules to dictate what happens when a phone call arrives.
If using a telephone answering service, the receptionist can transfer calls wherever you want. If you don’t use an answering service, you can set a certain type of call to go to a certain member of staff, or set a sales call (for example) to ring everybody at the same time. The possibilities are endless. Another benefit to utilising VoIP is the flexibility of the contracts. Many VoIP providers work flexible month-to-month agreements.
To retain a certain level of control, it is important to stay in touch with your employees daily by phone. Encourage your remote staff to communicate with each other. This breaks down the potential feelings of isolation felt by some home workers, and more importantly, helps promote team work and working towards a common goal.
Calls and messages do not always have to be work-related though, casual frequent chats can replace the visual clues you would rely on in a traditional setting to read an employee’s emotional status.
Having regular conversations with your workforce builds trust. It’s important, however, not to fall into the trap of checking in several times a day.
If you find yourself in this situation, you are either a.) hiring incorrectly, or b.) not learning to trust your workforce.
Transparency is key. By allowing staff to work from home, you are giving them more freedom to work to their best, even if they have to pop out to pick up the kids. Treating staff in this way to promote respect allows your business to be managed by results, not by desk hours.
Employees in a physical office are ‘at’ work, but are they working?
It’s a misconception that because an employee is sat with their eyes glued to a computer for 8 hours a day, they’re actually being productive.
It is important to set clear objectives for all members of your team, from sales and accounts to customer service. Every employee must have a structure that allows you to measure their performance. Communicate objectives clearly, and review regularly, so all members of the team have a clear picture of your business goals.
Using a city centre virtual office and having a remote workforce is not just about cutting costs. It’s about letting your workforce feel empowered, allowing them to have a better work-life balance.
That being said, structuring your business in this way and utilising a Virtual Office will save you money. Lots of it.
Imagine the cumulative cost of an office for 10 staff, their cost of travel to work, and all the other hidden costs. It’s thousands. You can then use this money to pay your staff more, reward success more frequently, and invest in regular social team events. With ample room left in your budget, celebrating company successes is a great way to keep your virtual workforce happy.
For further information, read our guide on fostering high-performance remote teams.