Running a virtual office and coordinating a remote team certainly has its advantages, especially if you know how to organize your activity properly. First off, when everyone on the staff is working remotely, it means that they all communicate on equal footing. In addition, the communication becomes more efficient because it’s stored – and hence searchable – and you will always know what the team is doing.
Despite the advantages of working in a virtual office, you will also have to account for several setbacks all derived from the fact that your team is not in the same place. Following are some tips to help you compensate for the missing elements and improve the productivity of your staff.
1. Hold regular meetings
Having regular meetings helps your company structure the workday more efficiently, so don’t skip them. Because seeing your employees’ and/or colleagues’ faces facilitates communication, make sure that you use both audio and video for these meetings. Take note that holding a video conference comes with a unique advantage for a manager: you can see who is talking and how the others are reacting to him or her.
2. Use instant chat instead of emails for communicating
While you might argue that having an IM window open is a major distraction, in this case the instant chat can act as a substitute of being in the same room with your coworkers. In fact, when used properly, the IM chat actually bridges the gap between sending an email and calling/going over to your colleague’s desk. Speaking of emails, they are time consuming and shouldn’t be used as a mean of communicating with the team. Create an email address, but only use it for communicating with people outside the office.
3. Share documents, links and ideas
Utilizing at least one of the numerous different document sharing tools is another surefire way to boost productivity at your virtual office. Remember to create a structure of folders, teach people how to use it and assign permissions so that everything runs smoothly. In the event that your line of work implies constantly sharing links and ideas, then make sure to give your team their own special space. On a side note, using the email for this purpose is usually counterproductive, as you’re forced to waste a lot of time browsing through older emails.
4. Get an office number
In case working from home is going to be permanent, then it’s important to get an office number. You could use a landline for this purpose or alternatively, your mobile phone, a VoIP number or an online number from Skype are equally viable alternatives if you’re on a strict budget.
5. Create a dedicated workspace and set boundaries
While for some working from home might seem like the perfect opportunity to procrastinate, this kind of thinking will have a negative influence on your productivity. Creating a routine and sticking to it becomes even more important than if you were working in a standard office. Since there’s a high chance your family members might not see your job as real work, make sure to explain to them that during your office hours, you are unavailable.