As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have closed their offices temporarily and their employees are working from home. If this new set-up has been successful, business owners may be questioning the need to continue having a dedicated office space when the government allows businesses to reopen.

A virtual office is part of the flexible office market and it gives businesses a physical address and access to physical offices, equipment, meeting rooms, and other services as needed, without the long-term financial commitment.

The following tips will help you if you are considering switching from a traditional office environment to a virtual one.

Desk of business person working from home due to coronavirus outbreak with computer, cup of coffee and planner

Consider a Test Run before Switching to a Virtual Office

Since virtual office providers rent space without requiring a long-term commitment, you have an opportunity to try different options. Whether it’s for a few hours, a week, or a month, you can select the virtual office space provider that offers the location, office space, and services that work best for your business.

Plan for the Transition

Once you’ve decided to move to a virtual office, it’s a good idea to let your employees know about the upcoming change. While you might not yet know all the details, people need time to adjust to change and you can help your employees by providing information about the reasons for the move and the potential benefits to them—a reduced daily commute and more flexible work hours can be attractive to some employees.

Continue to provide regular updates regarding the timing of the move, your expectations of the employees in the new environment, and how the transition will unfold. It can be helpful to show pictures of virtual offices you are considering, to help them visualize the future of the company.

Get the Tools You Need to Succeed

Successful virtual teams need to be able to connect with each other easily, and there are many communication tools available. While your company may have used email for internal communications previously, there are more robust messaging apps available that allow for better collaboration between team members.

Now is a good time to consider your future requirements for videoconferencing and project management software. Ensure that all employees receive training, so they can use the tools to their fullest advantage.

Do Research before Choosing a Virtual Office Space Provider

Just as with other vendors, it’s important to do your research when choosing a virtual office space provider. Assess how each candidate ranks on its ability to meet your needs and select a provider that can accommodate your needs as your business grows.

While some companies may need just an address and mail handling services, others may require a receptionist to answer client calls and greet guests, and access to meeting room space, fax, and photocopier equipment.

Read online reviews about each virtual office space provider you are considering and ask the providers directly for client references.

Clear Up Everything with the Provider

Ensure that you are clear about what is included in the costs of the services you are interested in and whether there are any additional charges for services such as photocopying or call forwarding.

Once you have settled on a provider, test the services you will be using as soon as you can. For example, call the virtual receptionist as though you were one of your customers. Communicate any issues you may encounter with your virtual office provider.

Inform Your Clients about the Transition

Notify your clients as soon as possible about the change of address, using your regular communication tools. Add a notification to your website with the details of the new address and the date the move will be effective.

Understand the Difference Between On-Site Management and Virtual Leadership

In a traditional office setting, employees often work a set number of hours in return for a certain amount of pay and employers can easily monitor the hours worked. In virtual offices, expectations should focus more on the outcomes the employees are producing, since it is harder to track the efforts that people are putting into doing their jobs.

Employees won’t be connecting with each other in the halls at the office, so it is a good idea for leaders to foster connection amongst the team. You can do this by using videoconferencing and dedicating some time during regular team meetings to talk about non-work-related plans.

Be Clear about What You Expect

Being clear with your employees about your expectations will help them to be successful in this virtual work environment. Ensure that your team understands the goals of the company and their roles in accomplishing those objectives.

Successful virtual leaders communicate often and predictably with their employees about progress and workload, without being too controlling about the process. Employees should understand your expectations in terms of work hours, responding to requests, and participation in regular teleconferences or videoconferences, but they may also need help in setting boundaries for themselves, so they aren’t working constantly and at risk for burning out.

Train Your Team to Use Technology Wisely

Establish guidelines on how your team will use technology in different situations and for different purposes. For example, you could require that employees be accessible by email during work hours but use instant messaging or phone calls for issues requiring quick responses.

Employees should continue to adhere to established protocols on the use of company IT and know how to store and protect their work data securely on their devices and in the company’s cloud.

Innovative Professional Offices is one of the leading providers of virtual office services Ottawa and Mississauga. In addition to our virtual offices, we offer competitive flexible rental packages, fully furnished executive office suites, fully equipped training and meeting rooms, high-speed Wi-Fi, professional IT services, and so much more. To rent a virtual office space in Ottawa or Mississauga, contact us today.