Virtual offices are expanding all over the world. As virtual goods become more widespread, there is less and less need for physical office spaces. If you plan to set up a virtual office, the following tips will help you to maximize the productivity of your new business:
Communication is Key:
Without staff meetings or water cooler chit-chat, you may have a hard time conversing with your employees, or getting them to converse with each other. In this environment, it’s easy for poor communication to derail your business endeavors. Employees won’t know what to expect from you, and you won’t know how to clear up their doubts.
To counteract this problem, contact each employee as soon as you have something to tell her. Provide specific instructions, and answer any questions you employees ask you immediately. Your employees should never be able to realistically claim that they didn’t get your instructions in time, or didn’t understand them.
Once you have the lines of communication open, keep track of your employees’ skills and weaknesses. The better you are at giving tasks to the right employees, the quicker those tasks will be completed, and the higher the finished product’s quality will be.
One trick is to start new employees out with simple, tasks, and then gradually give them more complex ones. This way, you’ll be able to gauge your employees’ skills without running the risk that they might ruin a complex project. You should only give your employees difficult, sensitive tasks if you know they can complete them effectively.
It’s All About Appearances:
Virtual offices are often associated with lazy, pajama-wearing employees and managers. Shake this image as quickly as possible. Not only does it turn off investors and customers, but it makes employees think they can get away with lazy practices.
One way to make yourself look professional is to get a permanent mailing address. If possible, also hire a receptionist to answer phone calls and provide notary services. This will show your employees, and the world, that you’re serious about your business.
Know Your Rights:
Different regulations apply to the online business world than to the world of physical offices. If you don’t know what your rights are as a virtual employer, your employees can easily take advantage of you. Regulations on virtual businesses vary by state and city, but the US Small Business Administration is a good place to start learning about such regulations.
Trust is essential to any business, but it becomes particularly important if you’re relying on employees you’ve never met. Your workers need to know that you respect them and will adequately honor their contributions to your enterprise. Otherwise, they have no reason to faithfully work for you. Start by giving your employees the freedom to complete their assignments in the way they see fit. If they do well, reward them. They will know that you trust them to complete their assignments on their own, and you will know that they can do a good job without your constant input.
Know Your Limits:
Ironically, one of the keys to establishing a productive virtual workplace is knowing when it’s time to stop being a virtual workplace. If your business expands beyond a few dozen employees, it often becomes more efficient to work in a physical office. If you’re having trouble keeping track of all your employees, and think face-to-face collaboration would be be better for business, ask your employees if they would be willing to transition from a virtual office to a physical one.