There are a number of challenges facing Australian businesses due to the pandemic when it comes to returning to a physical office space.
There’s the consideration of how to keep employees safe by implementing distancing, mask policies, and cleaning rules. There’s also just trying to keep costs low while recovering from any revenue losses due to the pandemic.
Those challenges, along with the realization that it is possible to run businesses remotely using the right technology solutions, have many business owners contemplating going completely virtual and losing their physical office altogether.
It’s estimated that post-pandemic, nearly 50% of the workforce will be working remotely from home. So, for a business that doesn’t need to have a physical location for retail or manufacturing, paying for rent and utilities for an office space makes a lot less sense than it may have in the past.
Technology Vital to Powering a Virtual Office
Before the pandemic started, the average commercial office space in NSW rented for between $485 to $1,025 per metre per year. So, for a 50m2 office space (not including furniture, utilities, etc.) a company would be paying between $2,021 to $4,271 per month.
That’s a significant saving if you put the right technology in place to run your office virtually and have all employees working from home.
Here are the vital pieces of cloud infrastructure you need to put in place to make the transition successfully:
#1 Cloud-Based Phone System
If you haven’t already, you need to replace your legacy phone system with a VoIP system. We recommend 3CX for a full-featured, cost-effective solution.
A cloud-based phone system is often the reason that many people may liaise with a business for years and never realize they don’t have a physical office. VoIP systems give your business a level of professionalism by having enterprise-class features like dial-by-name directory and auto attendant.
VoIP phones can be answered anywhere - for instance, via a mobile phone app - so all employees will have access to your phone system just as they did at the office. They’ll also be able to seamlessly transfer calls, use voicemail, and call out to any landline, mobile, or VoIP number.
#2 Microsoft Teams for Video & Team Collaboration
One of the most important things you need to have in place is a way for employees to continue to interact and connect as easily as they did when located in the same building.
Microsoft Teams is like an office in the cloud. It’s a connection point, where people can access others in their organization, interface with their specific departments, and connect with clients.
Features of Teams include:
- Video or audio meetings
- Channeled communications (which can be set up by department)
- File sharing and collaboration
- Alerts and @mentions (a virtual tap on the shoulder)
- Status messages (let everyone know when you’re at lunch)
- Launching point for a team’s workflow (files, apps, websites, etc.)
Another important capability includes the data security features in Teams.
#3 Streamlined Productivity Platform
It’s important to streamline your use of the cloud as much as possible when running your office virtually. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of apps from different vendors that don’t integrate or share data easily.
Microsoft 365 is a perfect productivity platform for virtual offices because it offers all the main tools an office needs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook), plus includes an entire stable of collaboration efficient tools, such as:
- OneDrive (personal storage)
- Planner (simple project management)
- Stream (internal video publishing, like YouTube)
- To-Do (shared task list)
- And more
#4 Centralized Cloud File Storage
When you have employees working from different locations, you don’t want to lose control over all your work files by having them stored locally on different machines. It’s important to have a centralized cloud storage platform that will accomplish two main objectives.
- Keep all your files together in one place so you can secure them
- Make it easy for your team to access the files they need
OneDrive file storage is another reason Microsoft 365 is such a value-added platform. OneDrive is included and each user has their own 1TB of space for storing company files in the cloud.
#5 Security-First Managed IT Support
The provision of IT services from an external provider that places security first can ensure that employee devices are secure and well maintained even if they’re being used in different physical locations.
Technology and business are now intertwined and for your business to run well, your technology needs to be running securely and efficiently.
Via our NetCare Technology Success process, our world-class service delivery team are there whenever an employee needs help and to ensure your technology continues to power your virtual business effectively and stays protected from any security intrusions.
NetCare Can Help You Build a Successful Virtual Office Space
If you’ve been contemplating moving to a fully remote office, we can help you put the foundation in place for a successful transition.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Call (02) 9114 9920 or reach out online.