Tips for Taking Your Office Virtual

More and more these days you hear about companies that are “going virtual.” In other words, they are getting away from having a physical office where employees report to work each day, and instead employees are now telecommuting. In fact, that's exactly what the SREC offices did last month. We are now a completely virtual company. My employees work from home, and any local employees convene once a week to check in and make sure everything is going ok. You probably didn't even notice, did you? That's the point.

Having a virtual office has its advantages and disadvantages, so take a look at the points below and take them into consideration if you’re thinking of moving to a virtual office.

Why Go Virtual?

1) Research shows that employees will become more productive

2) Going virtual will cut down on energy waste, and is better for the planet

3) Telecommuting means that the company will become cheaper to operate

How Will the Company Save Money?

1) By not paying as much for rent.

2) Negating commute times means that employees have the opportunity to be more productive, thereby saving the company additional expenses.

3) Employees can also benefit by claiming an income tax deduction for part of the rent or mortgage if they have a room in their home that they use exclusively as an office.

Tips for Success

1) Just because you’re home doesn’t mean that you are available. Set some ground rules for your family to follow.

2) Make sure to set time for breaks and DON?T skip lunch!

3) Get out of the house and away from the computer.

4) Develop a routine to prepare for the workday, just as if you were going into a physical office every day.

5) Consider switching where you do your work (see ideas below) to mix things up once in a while.

The Importance of Collaboration

• Part of working is the social aspect of doing something collaboratively. By going virtual, we risk making our jobs just another job.

• Companies exist because collaboration creates more value than individuals working on their own.

The danger of going virtual is that each one of us will feel more isolated and disconnected, and therefore tempted to make decisions based on self-interest first, and the company second.

• Keep your Skype or instant messenger open throughout the day, but change your status to Away or Busy if you need to really put your head down and focus.

Beware of these Danger Zones

1) Instant Messaging/Emails - It?s easy to misinterpret someone?s tone –– for instance, thinking that someone is angry when they are really just busy.

2) For BIG issues, make a phone call. Don?t text or email.

3) If there?s been a misunderstanding, make a phone call. Don?t continue the email chain.

4) As time moves on, you may experience mood swings ranging from extreme satisfaction one minute to dire self-doubt the next. Find ways to fill these emotional gaps.

Final Point

Please don?t refer to your company as a “virtual” company. Rather, say our headquarters is in Cleveland, but we have employees throughout the U.S.


Places to Work Virtually – here are some suggestions of where you can work virtually, and some pitfalls to avoid with each: 

Home office

  • Cost: Free
  • Focus Factor: High
  • Don't Forget: To be courteous to your spouse
  • Best For: Solitary work. Private phone calls. Wearing slippers
  • Avoid When: You have small children or noisy neighbors

Beach/Pool

  • Cost: Free
  • Focus Factor: Very low
  • Don't Forget: Your mobile broadband card
  • Best For: Swimming. Sunbathing. Light e-mailing
  • Avoid When: You have actual work to do. During hurricane season

Coffee shop

  • Cost: Moderate
  • Focus Factor: Low
  • Don't Forget: To tip your barista
  • Best For: Human contact. Casual meetings
  • Avoid When: You need to focus

Library

  • Cost: Free
  • Focus Factor: Very high
  • Don't Forget: Headphones
  • Best For: Writing. Finding a good mystery novel
  • Avoid When: You are expecting a phone call

Co-working space

  • Cost: Moderate
  • Focus Factor: Moderate
  • Don't Forget: To reserve space ahead of time
  • Best For: A change of pace
  • Avoid When: You need privacy

Conventional office

  • Cost: Expensive
  • Focus Factor: Moderate
  • Don't Forget: To take a shower
  • Best For: Meeting with clients. Collaborating. Pranks
  • Avoid When: You need peace and quiet
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