In April 2020, about 50% of surveyed businesses had 81% or more of their employees working remotely. That meant buildings were sitting empty while companies were being run completely remotely.
Now that re-openings are occurring around the US, many small and large business owners in Connecticut and the rest of the country are contemplating what it would take to keep their business remote and close their physical office to save money on overhead.
Technology solutions have made things possible that most companies would not have considered in the past. One of these is the ability to eliminate a physical office and put that money saved back into their business.
Even before the pandemic began, companies like Apple and U-Haul were running their customer support departments through at-home workers. Many organizations are considering a permanent switch to a virtual office now that the initial shut down from the pandemic has started to lift because they realize that it CAN be done.
One big reason is the cost savings. It is estimated that for each remote worker a business will save approximately $22,000 per year.
Where do those savings come from? A number of areas contribute to the savings:
- Improved productivity
- Office space savings
- Savings on utilities and other physical office costs
- Travel/commuting costs
- Improved employee retention
- Reduced absenteeism
- Ability to hire Independent Contractors for Virtual Help which potentially reduces the cost of benefits and wasted downtime by paying for only what they need
- Business continuity improvements.
If you have been thinking about the boost in bottom line from lowering your overhead by closing your physical office, read on for the things you need in place to make that happen.
How to Successfully Transition from a Physical to Virtual Office
There are some core things you need to have in place to ensure your business can run virtually just as well (or better) than it did with a physical office location.
Virtual Office Address Service
One thing you lose when you close your physical office is your business address. You want to keep a professional address and also have a level of separation between your home and work life which is why using your home address for your business is not a good idea.
There are many virtual office address services you can use that give you a little more legitimacy than just a P.O. box. A virtual address typically will be to a physical office building that provides conference room rental, office rental and more.
It gives you a physical address so that if someone were to look you up on Google street view, it would be to an office park or office building that allows you to have mail handling services for your company. This also keeps your Google My Business listing as an effective tool.
Team Collaboration Tool with Video & Chat
Your employees need to have the ability to virtually “stop by each other’s office” and this can be facilitated with a tool like Microsoft Teams. It makes it easy to chat, share files, use team channeled messaging and video/audio chat.
Encouraging the use of short video chats and team video meetings keeps everyone feeling connected and like part of the team even though they are all working in different locations.
Cloud Productivity & Storage Apps
The cloud is what is powering the ability for companies to work remotely. You want to put in a streamlined cloud productivity suite that includes cloud storage.
Utilizing less app platforms will be better for integration, automation and the user learning curve. Platforms like Microsoft 365 and G Suite give you cloud storage and several productivity tools that all integrate and make co-authoring and online collaboration easy.
Device & Network Security
Even though the computers accessing your business data are now located in employee homes instead of an office, you still need to ensure they have protection to keep your data safe.
The best way to do this is through a managed IT services plan that provides multiple security and user benefits, including:
- PC health monitoring
- Managed updates
- Managed antivirus/anti-malware
- Web protection
- Helpdesk support
- Remote support
When it comes to network security, the best way to secure data transmissions on so many different home networks is to use a business virtual private network (VPN).
A VPN will encrypt all online sessions no matter how unsecure the Wi-Fi network might be and can be used on computers and mobile devices.
VoIP Phone System
Virtual company phone lines is a must for a business without a physical office. VoIP allows your phone lines to be answered from anywhere and gives a professional sounding experience to the caller.
VoIP also costs much less than a traditional landline phone system and you can easily add or remove users whenever you need to.
Clear Virtual Work Policies
It is important to have policies in place so employees will know what is expected of them now that you operate from a virtual office.
For example, set up work hours, break times, etc. just as you would at a physical office.
Also, create policies for communications that might not have been necessary when everyone worked at the same location. For instance, instruct employees to set a “status message” in your office communications app when they are away from their desk or on the phone.
Get Help Transitioning to a Fully Virtual Office
If you have been considering making the switch to a virtual office, Sound Computers can help you put the technology pieces in place to ensure a successful transition.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 860-577-8060 or reach us online.