3 Essential Tools For Your Virtual Office

By Abby Terlecki on June 25th, 2014 / Comments

You’ve independently launched your business right from your tablet using popular management tools including note-taking, file sharing and website building and hosting platforms. But with your growth comes the demand for more resources. If your mobile company is at a point of expansion and in need of more manpower, you can still hire employees while operating as a virtual office.

Add the following technologies and applications to your management toolbox to help your mobile business take its next step.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing serves as one of the most influential factors in the rise of the virtual office. Andy Atalla, founder of digital marketing agency atom42, credits cloud computing as “the fabric of how we operate,” reports The Guardian. The cloud enables employees to access “the office” from anywhere, at any time.

Sanjay Parekh, co-founder and managing director of SaaS application Webexpenses, ditched the physical office and reduced costs by 15 percent. The company still increased revenue by 20 percent annually since its 2007 inception. Parekh states that the flexibility generated by working in the cloud produces more satisfied and productive employees.

Cloud collaboration and data exchange is secure. Online cloud backup service Mozy ensures that its cloud-based technology runs on next-generation protection. The most trusted cloud providers are designed to offer automatic data protection that meet military-grade security standards. As your on-the-go employees work from various mobile devices, sensitive information and enterprise data stays protected in the cloud.

Interactive Communication

Although email remains an effective way to exchange information, it can quickly build up, overflow and be ignored. Employees can chat in real-time and mitigate email overflow with instant message and video conferencing applications. Co-founder of Plated, an e-commerce gourmet recipe kit delivery business, tells Forbes that his company avoids a cluttered inbox by starting conversations with HipChat, a hosted group and video chat for collaboration and file sharing.

Web products company Todaymade features Google+ Hangouts as an effective way to host online meetings and chat sessions with up to nine people. Google+ Hangouts also boosts digital marketing efforts with online customer support and desktop screen sharing. Hangouts On Air also has video recording and content publishing.

Company Culture

Chris Sugai, CEO of upscale mountain bike company Niner Bikes in Fort Collins, Colorado, manages 30 employees from Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Taiwan and Vietnam. Meanwhile, Sugai works from Wyoming and Las Vegas, and yet his bike company was expected to earn $20 million in sales as of June 2013. Sugai shared with Inc that maintaining a unified company culture was a major lesson to be learned while managing “a fast-growing business with a widely distributed workforce.” The passion Niner Bikes’ employees share for cycling over email and work trips creates a bond and connection.

Promote a unified company culture where your employees can connect over non-work related conversations. Yammer is a private social network where employees can engage with one another. Also, like Sugai has done, shut down the virtual workspace for a few days and take a fun trip to foster teamwork and bonding.

BONUS: Try finding an affordable co-working space when you need to host meetings and get out of the house. Working remotely comes with freedom, but working in a co-working spaces adds a network and community to your team. Michipreneur works out of Bamboo Detroit located in Downtown Detroit, we also recommend our full list of Michigan business incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces.

About the Author

Abby Terlecki

Abby Terlecki sees herself as one of those creative writer-types who always prefers to tell stories with her keyboard than through her mouth. When Abby's not writing freelance articles, text messages, to-do lists, or CrossFit scores, she's practicing her craft as a full-time writer for a marketing agency in Phoenix, Arizona.