Your home business is expanding, you want to hire office workers who work@home for you to retain talent. Here is how to set-up a virtual office.
1. Determine a business address for your virtual office. It could be a post box number or house address.
2. Evaluate their connectivity options, such as e-mail, cell phones , online forums, instant messaging and VoIP.
3. Install the necessary equipment such as computers, printers, modem, CD writer, DVD writer, tephone line, fax machine, internet services and other optional hardware such as a web camera and scanner.
4. Install necessary software on the computers depending on your virtual office needs. Some of these programs are specifically designed for web conferencing, presentations or meeting scheduling. Also choose a reliable anti-virus program to protect your PC.
5. Ensure that your employees are connected to the central office by way of a computer network. If you have sufficient funds, provide them with necessary paraphernalia such as a laptop, Wi-Fi cell phone or VoIP equipment. This way you and your workforce can be connected efficiently.
6. Contact a telephone service provider and get your company a modern phone system with interactive voice response (IVR) facility. This will help you manage your phone calls without being on site. This is a comfortable and conducive mechanism, since it has the technology to divert a call to a necessary destination, it comes at a reasonable price and it charges by usage.
7. Set up an intranet facility meant to be accessed only by the employers of the company. This makes it easy to pass information, vital communications, files and documents. Or go in for the Virtual Private Network (VPN) so that full confidentiality of the transferred material is maintained.
8. Keep track of who is accessing the database of your organization by keeping logs of entry, exit and access information.
9. official meetings with co-workers, clients or others can be connected by using web cams, cell phones and instant messengers so that physical absence does not become a hindrance.
10. Ensure that your employees submit timesheets on a routine basis to record their number of work hours. Systematically evaluate these timesheets based on the estimated hours required for specific tasks.
How to setup a Virtual Office
Docking stations make it easy to have a standard monitor, keyboard and mouse, printer, fax machine, scanner, and other peripherals always hooked and ready to use.
- Other equipment and hardware options you might consider include:
A black and white 600-1200 dpi laser printer if your final documents require crisp, high quality black and white output. Laser printers also provide the fastest output, so if you know your volume will be high you should also consider a laser printer.
- A color laser printer if your documents need high quality color illustrations, photos, or charts. These are quite expensive so make sure you compare the print quality with a less expensive ink jet printer.
- An inkjet printer if you need good quality text, color charts and graphs, or photos. With ink jet printers, the paper that is used often makes the biggest difference in the print quality. Get paper that is best suited for the job you are doing. Also, try to get a test print from different models to compare quality before you buy. Ink jets can provide very good quality but are not as fast printing as laser printers.
- A fax machine if you will need to fax paper documents often. There is also the option of online faxing services such as E-Fax.
- A scanner if you will need to scan documents or photos. You can also use a scanner along with e-mail or fax software in place of a regular fax machine.
- A CD burner (CD-RW) if you need to provide clients with large files electronically, or if you want to back up your files on CD. There are many business uses for a CD writer, not to mention the ability to make your own music CDs.
- A DVD writer (DVD-RAM) if you need to provide clients with extremely large files, such as video, electronically.
- A removable media storage device. Iomega offers the most common drive of this type, called the Zip drive, but there are many others like it. Data is written to the disk just like it would be to a floppy diskette. The difference is the amount of data that can be written. Currently, there are 100 Mb and 250 Mb disks available for the ZIP drive. Iomega also manufactures Jaz drives that use disks that can hold up to 2 Gb of data.
- A modem for accessing the Internet, faxing electronically, and e-mail. This can be either a standard modem that you use with your existing phone lines for dial up access, a DSL modem that also uses your phone line but does not tie up your line, or a cable modem that uses the same cable your cable television is hooked up to. DSL and cable modems are for broadband Internet access and require special connections.
- A digital camera if your work requires photos for presentations, reports, a web site, or other documents. While you can also use a regular camera and scanner to get digital photos for documents, you may find the immediate access you get with a digital camera more efficient than waiting for film to be processed and printed. The quality of the digital image is still somewhat better with actually photos that are scanned, but for most business applications digital cameras produce sharp enough images. Images for use in marketing materials may need to be of higher quality.
- A multi-purpose scanner, fax machine, copier, printer if your space is limited and quality not as critical. Keep in mind with this type of equipment, however, if one part of it stops working you’ll be without the other functions until it can be repaired!