One of the biggest advantages of a virtual office is that you don't need to pay the rent of a place, as you are not actually setting up an office, but managing your business online. An online office for Internet business helps to save money for companies as well as individuals. Due to such an office you can select the best employees world over and don't have to personally meet them, but with which you can communicate easily by video conferencing. It allows you to do practically everything online, here is how this office works and tips on setting it up.
How Does it Work?
Virtual office uses virtual private network which is 'using Internet to connect employees and clients'. In such an office you will have your own work-related data, which includes important documents and project details. You can take projects from different clients and interact with the clients and customers using mails, fax, video conferencing, calls, etc. You will need to allocate work to other employees (who are working from home) and collect it from them so that you can send the final output to the client. To help you in this process you can hire a virtual assistant.
To set up a virtual office invest in a good smartphone which allows fast Internet access. With such a phone you will be able to check your email inbox from anywhere. You will also need to invest in a decent laptop computer and a broadband card. This will allow you to access the Internet and let you to check in the files in your virtual office from most of the locations. If you are going to be storing a lot of data like spreadsheets, graphics, videos, audios, etc., then you will need a laptop that has a good RAM and a large hard drive. A good RAM will prevent slowing down of your machine, and a large hard drive will give you good storage space for all your work-related data. Outsource the work as much as possible, so that other people are busy finishing the project while you are interacting and attracting more clients. You can also hire a virtual assistant if you want, the assistant will be doing all the administration jobs like answering the emails, returning clients calls, scheduling meeting and appointments, managing the business site, etc. There are many good sites that allow you to set up a virtual office under USD 100.
Though, there are many advantages of such an office and it is a very cost-effective way of starting a business, it still has some disadvantages. Lack of communication is a major problem. For projects which require brainstorming or input from various members of a team, virtual office might not work well. Technical limitations or problems might lead to incomplete communication or miscommunication. Such an office can also create an unprofessional image for the company. As many services are shared among companies, it is possible that the specific questions of the customers or clients are not being answered by the operators. Many potential clients can get an impression of people who have a work at home business as less professional. It is also possible that it might lead to decreased productivity. Employees might get distracted by their surrounding environment and lag behind the deadlines. Employees might get distracted by external factors like noise of the TV, might abuse the information of the company, or lose important information due to miscommunication or technical problems.
If you are starting a small business, then a virtual office is a good idea. But, as your business progresses, it is better that you set up a real office to give the clients a more professional impression.