How to Successfully Transition to a Virtual Office
January 11, 2021 by Lee Mulkowsky
Perhaps it was the pandemic that made you decide to make the move to a virtual office. Or perhaps the switch is a New Year’s resolution, and you’ll be lease-free starting January 2021. Whatever your impetus, rest assured that transitioning from a traditional workspace to a virtual office is the right choice. Doing so will save you time, money, hassle, and headache, and it could also up your work productivity.
But the change may not be without its hiccups — unless you’re prepared. In the sections that follow, we detail how to make a smooth transition from a commute to the same four overpriced walls and a ceiling to the cash-saving freedom to work anywhere you choose.
1. Determine your needs
As a business owner who’s had things up and running for a while, you’re probably already well aware of what you and your company need to be successful. Perhaps you have a small staff, so your previous space had a large area with cubicles, or you leased a suite with several offices. Or maybe you’re a solopreneur, and that’s how you plan to keep things.
Whatever your situation, chances are your previous office was set up to best accommodate it. Now that you’re moving, either to a coworking space with virtual-office options or home with the support of a virtual-office provider, you’ll want to try to recreate the environment that worked for you before (just at a fraction of the cost and with far more flexibility).
For example, do you need near-total quiet for heads-down, solo work? If you have children or other family at home during the day, you may want to consider renting a private, lockable office at a top coworking space so you can go there when silence is what you require. With nine locations in and around the DC area, Metro Offices offers the convenience you want — and the private, by-the-hour offices you need.
Or perhaps you previously had a receptionist but are looking to slim your expenses this year. That’s no problem when you go with Metro Offices as your virtual-office services provider. We’ll see to it that a trained individual answers your dedicated business line. In fact, when a Metro Offices virtual-office member gets a call during business hours, a live professional always answers it.
Figure out what you’ll want and need for your business, and then do your homework regarding virtual offices. You don’t want to find out months into a membership that you’ve been paying for services you don’t need or that your plan doesn’t include a service you require.
2. Stick to a schedule
Remember, just because you’re no longer doing your work in a traditional office setting doesn’t mean you’re not doing it. Particularly if you’re self-employed, keeping up your output is important. But it’s not always easy.
“Working from home can … bring distractions from friends, family, social media, new obligations at home — especially if you’re sharing space with others — and reinventing schedules,” Hope Reese writes in a recent piece for TechRepublic.com. “All these things are likely to throw you off your routine. As a result, it’s easier to lose track of time” and get behind work-wise.
If you’re working from a home office now, make sure to keep as much as possible to your old schedule. Keep your alarm-clock setting. Begin your day at the same time each morning, and take scheduled breaks — to walk around, get a cup of coffee, use the bathroom, etc. (Just make sure to time them, so they don’t devolve into moving to the couch and turning on the TV.)
Give yourself a lunch hour, and consider using part of it to squeeze in a workout. Doing so will likely up your productivity and your level of satisfaction with work, as well as improve your overall health, of course.
3. Keep your connections
Don’t try to sneak your move in under the radar. There’s no need. A clunky, overpriced office lease doesn’t make your company better on its own; conversely, a sleeker operation doesn’t mean you lack professionalism.
So let your existing clients know about your professional address change with an email or paper card or note, and use the opportunity to reaffirm your commitment to them.
You might also use the opportunity to reach out to prospects, letting them know you are streamlining and reorganizing your business, and increased efficiencies have opened up bandwidth for new customers.
Continue existing outreach and networking (whatever that may mean for you in the COVID-19 era).
4. Set expectations
If your small business includes staff (and you plan to keep those team members as you transition to a virtual office), let them know well in advance of the move what you’ll expect from them in the new milieu.
Your employees may not have a lot of experience working remotely, so unless you’re changing hours or pay, be sure to tell your staff (and reaffirm at regular intervals) that you expect the same schedule and level of productivity you expected before.
Make virtual check-ins a regular thing. Don’t overdo it; nobody wants their calendars so full of Zoom meetings that they don’t have time to get actual work done. But some face time is important when it comes to maintaining a sense of togetherness.
“Establish structured daily check-ins,” Barbara Z. Larson, Susan R. Vroman and Erin E. Makarius write in a recent piece for Harvard Business Review. “This could take the form of a series of one-on-one calls … or a team call … The important feature is that the calls are regular and predictable, and that they are a forum in which employees know that they can consult with you, and that their concerns and questions will be heard.”
Email won’t cut it. “Remote workers benefit from having a “richer” technology, such as video conferencing, that gives participants many of the visual cues that they would have if they were face-to-face,” the piece reads.
Take the time to train your team on Zoom or whichever video platform you’ll be using before you make the move to a virtual office. And if you plan to invest in a collaboration tool, such as Slack, be sure to train them on it as well, so everyone knows what they’re doing once you go live remotely.
5. Use that shared office space
Sometimes there’s just no substitute for the real thing. Even introverts need occasional in-person interaction. Once every six weeks or so, plan an in-person get-together with your team.
A great spot for this: one of the collaboration or huddle rooms at your virtual-office-services provider. Have no fear; this can be done in a manner that’s in keeping with federally recommended COVID-19-prevention methods.
At Metro Offices, we have strict mask-wearing rules, numerous hand-sanitizing stations, reduced seating in common areas, and plastic shields at reception areas. We also have fun, well-appointed rooms where you and your team can meet and/or work, and the rooms are complete with whiteboards, chalkboards, and comfortable seating. Use them for an hour or two and get that needed face time in.
Metro Offices will save you a bundle. Click here to compare what it costs to run your own office with simply letting Metro Offices do the work for you.
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