Virtual Office – Freedom from the Workplace
Having a virtual office is becoming a new way for business to grow and offer better client care for the clients in a specific area. Our business has been able to grow by using this technology and the costs are less, and the time to get up and running is drastically reduced.
These tools will allow you to set up an office for your business. This will work for you if you are just starting out, or a company that has been thinking about expanding to a new area.
The virtual office allows you to get the office going, and start right away. Then if it comes time where you need a physical location in the area, now you are just sourcing office space for your already existing office!
Tools You Need
1. Phone System
You need a phone system that is cloud based. This gives you the option of creating multiple numbers or toll-free numbers.
Two systems that work well are Google Voice, and RingCentral which offers toll-free 800 numbers and fax numbers. The cloud based system is great because you can use mobile, computer, and VoIP to send and receive calls.
Cost for Setup: Google Voice is free, RingCentral will run you from $10.00 to $80.00 per month depending on the package you choose.
2. Mobile Phone
This is important because it will be your office in your pocket. If you use Google Voice, RingCentral etc. you can have your calls forwarded to your mobile so you can get the calls from any location you are currently working at.
Any good smart phone will work and this all depends on your preference. To get a good idea of the some great apps for business read our post on the best 7 apps for the SME.
Cost for Setup: Mobile plan $50.00 to $100.00 per month depending on airtime and options. Phone costs, I recommend buying your phone so you are not tied to any one carrier or contract, this can run you $300.00 to $600.00 depending on the mobile you choose.
3. Document Storage
To have the virtual office to work well you have to move your document storage to the cloud. If you are a team working in different locations this helps collaborate more effectively. If you are a one person then it allows you to work on many different platforms depending on the situation.
We use Google Docs for docs, spreadsheets, presentations etc. For project files we use DropBox and Amazon S3 with the Gladinet Cloud Desktop application. We have also started experimenting with Box.net.
Cost for Setup: Google Apps for Business $50.00/user/year. DropBox you can choose from free to $199.00/year depending on your storage requirements. Amazon S3 is billed monthly based on storage, and bandwidth check out the website for details based on your needs. Gladinet Cloud Desktop will run you $49.99 for the application.
4. Postal Address
If you would like to get a mailing address in a specific area search out the local area for Mail Identity Packages in the city you are thinking about creating a virtual office for. Also, if you require physical office space, these companies usually offer packages for part-time office space, and meeting rooms as well.
Cost of Setup: Mailing packages start from $40.00 to $60.00 per month. I won’t get into part-time office space because for us, we want as much workplace flexibility as we can get and a physical location just does not fit for us. I like to use my home office, coffee shops, parks, the mountains, the beach etc. for the office.
Now to connect this all together, this can vary a lot depending on your budget and your requirements.
Each of our team uses the following tools:
- Windows-based laptop, some of us also have a Mac
- Android based Mobile Phone
- 64gb WiFi – 3G iPad
These tools will allow you to work from just about anywhere and productivity remains high. Collaboration between team and clients is clean and seamless.
Cost of Setup: Laptop $500 to $800 you can spend more. iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G will run you $600.00 – $700.00 and now that the iPad 2 is out you can get first generation used iPad’s for cheap.
Put It All Together
Your Virtual Office is up and running, you have a phone number, hardware platform that will allow you to work from anywhere and file storage that can grow with you as you grow.
Total Cost of Setup: $1599.00
Monthly Running Cost: $189.95
Now these cost can vary a great deal, however this gives you a good overview on what it will take to get you up and running.
Also, with some good working strategies, no commute, work from multiple locations, and you get the added benefit of increased productivity so you can Work Less ~ Play More…
What do you think? Can Virtual Offices work for business?
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