In the online business world more and more people are running entirely virtual offices comprised of freelancers and employees around the world. More than globalization the internet has revolutionized the ways in which we can and do conduct business.
The rise of the internet and the increasing utility of the telecommunications industry have helped create this new business space. However running a virtual office can put additional strains on a business and creates a number of problems to overcome. In this article we’re going to look at some of the techniques you can employ whilst creating virtual offices for your business.
Setting Up a Virtual Office
With small scale online businesses many people imply use instant messaging and email to co-ordinate their “employees”. However, on a long time scale and with more complex business models this type of co-ordination has proved ineffective as it does not minimize the need for 121 interactions and monitoring of employee work. Many businesses have consequently found that setting up a virtual office helps to maximize operating efficiency. However, you may be at a loss as to what we mean by a virtual office in this context. There are a number of different models of virtual office and we will briefly outline them:
Website Portal office
These three “types” of virtual offices produce different results and allow you to create different organizational structures so they are worth examining in turn.
Website portal offices use a website you own and operate to co-ordinate all your freelancers and outsource in one place. Users are given login details and work can be assigned on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. When an outsourcer completes a piece of work they can submit it directly to your site meaning it is instantly accessible to you.
Whilst this type of virtual office is the most difficult to set up it is the most time effective solution to managing employees from around the world.It allows you to have a hands off approach to issuing work and collecting work – allowing you more time to focus on running the business itself rather than managing the employees. In addition it allows you to create pages of guidelines, training materials and contracts for your employees so you can maintain work standards with less instruction and monitoring.
Third party virtual offices
Third party virtual offices utilize many of the features above but are managed by a third party. On the higher end of the scale these virtual offices can offer cloud hosting, multi-user logins and a variety of other office assets to help run your business.
On the lower end of the scale job-board styled site exist where you can set tasks, chose employees and then monitor the progress of the work. This lets you have increased levels of control over your employees but may not be a time efficient to maintain work standards with less instruction and monitoring.
Thirdly network offices work slightly differently to the above as they create an office space where some or all of your employees can interact with each other. At its simplest level this would simply be using a chat room to allow your employees to communicate with you and each other. On a more complex level a network office space will be an extension of a portal to include networking alongside document hosting, training, webinars etc.
Creating Your Virtual Office
The types of office we have examined provide a detailed look at the features you may want to include. Your business model and employee roles within you organization will largely determine what you need from a virtual office. Using virtual offices can be incredibly time efficient and cost effective but you need to clearly identify your needs and future needs before you undertake the expense of creating a virtual office.