Skip to main content

Building Blocks for Virtual Businesses : Key technological systems you must have to succeed in the remote business world

This is a guest post by Ripley Daniels about "Key technological systems you must have to succeed in the remote business world.

Whenever I tell friends I had a tough day at the office, they laugh at me. That's because they know I don't really have an office. I work very hard but I work for a company that is completely remote. Only a few of my co-workers ever go into an office at all and when they do, it's only for short periods of time. Our "office" is a virtual one. To us, the traditional office workplace is a thing of the past, alongside Tyrannosaurus Rex, the slide rule, and telephones where you stick your finger in a hole and turn a dial.

Unfortunately, none of this prevents me from having tough days. I still have them. But the reasons have nothing to do with the fact that my co-workers and I don't have a brick and mortar edifice that we can use to plan, strategize, hold our meetings, make presentations, discuss sensitive business topics, build relationships, formulate projects, assess progress, and even socialize. We've figured out other ways to do these things. And those other ways work. In fact they work very well. We can conduct our daily business very successfully and do the same things that people in physical offices do, except we do them in a virtual environment. The only thing missing is the water cooler.

So how exactly did we figure out how to set up an office away from the office? The answer is: not without a lot of thought. The key was to first identify the critical elements that make an office function. And then find the right technology to replicate those elements in a remote environment. Here in a nutshell is a summary of those elements and some examples of the key technologies needed to make them work:

  1. Aid the access. One of the main advantages to a physical gathering place for work is that workers have easy access to the various tools they need to get their work done and they know the right area/room/desk to go to in order to quickly find and make use of the most appropriate tool. Our remote office needs to afford our workers the same easy access to the things they need to get their jobs done. Some of the technology that can make this happen includes the following:
    • Employee laptops with cameras and standardized software (e.g., MS Office)
    • Internet connectivity (home: Cable/DSL/FIOS; road: mobile broadband)
    • Secure connectivity with built-in encryption (e.g., Cisco VPN)
    • Cloud computing for backup email and business apps
    • PDAs with business apps (e.g., contact lists, mobile Skype, easy texting)
    • Client virtualization systems (e.g., VDI, Citrix)

  2. Take care of the talk. People that work together need to talk---all the time. And talking is something that happens with others (clients, stakeholders) too, both one-on-one and in a multi-player conference environment. There are good ways to do it from miles away. Some of the nifty tools available include:
    • Internet communication technologies (e.g., Voice-Over IP, Skype, broadband phone) with call forwarding
    • Desktop and mobile instant messaging (e.g., MIM, Gmail, Jappix, OCS)
    • Conference call services (free, pre-paid, flat rate, or premium)

  3. Facilitate the face time. One of the most frequent and necessary (some might say ubiquitous) characteristics of an office work environment is the daily meetings. But how could we function without them? The truth is that communication via email and telephone lines is great but there are always times when nothing can substitute for good old face-to-face. Some of the tools that facilitate remote meetings include:
    • HD video conferencing (the technology is widely available and getting less expensive every day)
    • Web videophone software (e.g., Skype, MegaMeeting, Adobe Connect)

  4. Simplify the sharing. People who work together in an office have the ability to go up to their co-workers, hand them a document to look at, and get instant feedback. This feedback can be in the form of comments, edits, and/or wholesale changes. Very often the process is iterative, involving a lot of back and forth among multiple parties until a final version is achieved. In order to make a virtual office function the right way, this same capability needs to be built in. Fortunately, there are many tools available to do this. And the good news is that they are becoming more powerful and sophisticated all the time. Some examples include:
    • Scribd: Allows users to upload and save documents in any number of widely-used formats. Also has a tracking feature.
    • Knowledge Tree: Lets users share and edit documents, as well as set and receive deadline reminders.
    • Firmex: Features include strong security and access control, making it a good solution for sensitive documents.
    • Free file sharing: A number of vendors offer free solutions, including Google and Yahoo. A popular cost-free solution is available from KeepandShare .


Tough days? Sure, they happen all the time---in any office setting. But when you build your remote business the right way, you can make the transition from a physical office to a virtual office seamless. By using the right technology, your office can be wherever you want it to be.


Ripley Daniels is an editor at Without The Stress, a passport, travel visa, and immigration advisory firm located in Los Angeles.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

List Of Common Flowers in Kerala With Pictures

Kerala is one of the famous tourist spot situated on the south of India famous for its numerous wild life and thick vegetation. Like the Himalayan ranges on the north of India,

AMOLED display coming to Samsung Galaxy Tab range

This is a guest post by Erica about the arrival of AMOLED display to Samsung Galaxy Tab range.Samsung could be transplanting a seven inch AMOLED screen into an upcoming addition to its Galaxy Tab range of tablet computers.

You may have experienced an AMOLED display in a small portable device before as Samsung, Nokia and HTC have all used them in smartphones to date. However, the expense of producing AMOLED screens has prohibited them from appearing on larger devices like tablets, until now.


The seven inch Galaxy Tab was launched last year but an update with an AMOLED screen would be most welcome, cutting energy consumption and improving colours and contrast ratios across the board.


The rumours about this device state that it will run Android 3.0, feature a three megapixel camera on the rear, a two megapixel snapper on the front and have a display resolution of 1024x600 which is not bad for a device of this size.


The hardware powering the new Galaxy Tab will consist of a 1.2GHz processor w…

5 Common Examples Of Website Design Mistakes by Business Owners

This is a guest post by Sachin about five Common Examples Of Website Design Mistakes by Business Owners . When most business owners think about website design, they think about a brochure online. Online shopping sites are making a lot of money with the use of web-based applications to sell products, collect payments an arrange delivery. The only work left to do is pack and send the boxes. Smart applications can even print out the labels, so the only thing left to do it stick them on the box. Unfortunately, in many cases, websites are replacing people. For those of us left with a job, we can be thankful that many business owners make the following mistakes when it comes to websites and web design.


Don’t have one. This is the first and biggest problem of most business owners when it comes to website design. They think they don’t need one. Who can ever really do with less business? The reason why they have not been getting business from online sources in the past is because they have not …

Twitter and Free Speech

It is a post from Jessica Wagner about Twitter and free speech. When the Internet first started taking prominence in the 1990's, a new vehicle for free speech was built. Starting in the 1980's, billion dollar multi-media companies had started accumulating large papers, television networks, and radio stations. Many people worried that big business would conglomerate and eliminate the free speech which the United States was built on. Because of the amalgamation of media, it became harder for individuals to get their voices heard through the use of mass media.

Creating a website, blog, or posting on a comment forum is now the standard by which to get your voice heard in American. With the super-advanced speed at which social media has entered our lives, it is easier than ever to take information, a thought, or an opinion and spread it throughout the entire country or world.

Recently, there has been a lot of controversy over the use of Twitter and the rights of free speech as they…

Why Lapel Pins are a Great Marketing Technique for Your Small Business

When you run a business on a small scale, you need to use aggressive but creative marketing techniques to attract the attention of potential customers. When your business is small, you need to understand that there are several mammoth companies that could act as a barrier between you and your potential customers. At such a time, using effective marketing techniques plays a very important role.