The world is experiencing what’s known as the 4th Industrial Revolution. Facilitated in large part by web connectivity, cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT), this ongoing transformation has made it possible for phenomena such as telecommuting to become ever more prevalent in today’s workforce. With more people than ever working remotely, the need for a traditional office is slowly fading. Below are five secrets to creating one such successful virtual workplace.
Getting a Virtual Office
Virtual offices provide several advantages. If you’re a start-up, a home-based or an online business, virtual offices offer you a premium business address, a dedicated phone number, a professional receptionist, meeting room and business lounge access and other critical amenities at a fraction of the cost for rent and maintenance of a traditional office. A virtual office allows you to operate in a remote environment and only use the physical services when required for meetings and the like. In this way you can enjoy all the benefits of a traditional office without the headaches and expense of maintaining one.
Using The Right Technologies
Cloud computing has enabled companies to utilize a staggering array of web-based tech tools to streamline operations. These tools can be accessed anytime, from any place with an internet connection, making them perfect for virtual and telecommuting environments. Team communication tools such Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack, TeamViewer, Microsoft Azure, help keep your team members in touch and share information instantaneously. On the clerical side, a wealth of cloud-based solutions handling functions such as accounting, HR management, CRM and countless others are helping companies run just as efficiently as if all employees were based in a single office location.
Though it may be tantalizing to think that telecommuting is a perfect example of a work-life balance, it isn’t necessarily the case. Even if working from home offers a higher degree of flexibility, some people may find it hard to separate their work schedule from their personal responsibilities and vice-versa. For some telecommuters, it helps to have a designated workspace in the home, while others find it easier when they have a clear plan for the day and the week. Managers should also help promote productivity by focusing on progress made rather than hours worked.
Working remotely implies that work colleagues rarely, if ever, meet face to face. This, unfortunately, leads to a lack of trust, which is detrimental to the success of your business. Luckily, however, there are ways to bypass this shortfall. If possible, occasional team-building activities are an option to bring people closer together. Alternatively, regular webinars or virtual meetings in which a geographically dispersed team can share ideas, acknowledge each other’s achievements and discuss business issues can assist in fostering personal connections and a feeling of unity among people that don’t otherwise spend time in each other’s physical company.
Mentoring is key to success for any team members looking to build their skill sets. Virtual mentoring brings this concept into a virtual setting. The benefits of virtual mentoring, for both parties, is the establishment of trust and relationships, development of cross-departmental skills, enhancement in communications, and an overall boost in confidence. When it comes to small or virtual business, mentoring is often neglected. Nevertheless, it is an instrumental part of the successful development of any organization.
With 25% of the US workforce now being involved in some form of telecommuting, the virtual workplace is slowly becoming the norm. Making it work efficiently, will be an issue that more and more modern managers will be faced with and getting a head start will add to their success.