Let's Open a Dialogue
The key to any good office environment is communication. However, in a virtual office it's not only key, but essential! When your employees are scattered around the city, (or even the world), in order to ensure that tasks are being completed properly you need to ensure that you have strict communication guidelines in place. There's nothing that will slow your productivity down more than poor communication. Be sure that all your virtual employees know exactly what is expected of them in terms of updates, response times and methods. Not only will you feel more in control, but clear communication boundaries ensure that your employees feel valued as well.
Who Are You, Anyway?
Without daily personal interaction, it can be hard to know exactly who you are working with. So much an individual’s personality is expressed in facial expressions and tone of voice, and much of this is lost in the virtual office. Obviously you need to take the time to get to know your employees in order to be able to supervise and delegate them successfully. Consider having a weekly or even daily Skype conversation in order to benefit from face to face contact. Not only will you feel more comfortable knowing each of your employees better, but it's an excellent way to ensure that your projects remain on track.
Delegate Like a Pro
Having a keen understanding of your employees’ skill sets is crucial when it comes to maintaining your productivity. Would you ask a computer programmer to produce a gourmet meal only to become furious when they fail? By knowing who is good at what, you can safely delegate the company projects knowing that they will be done well and on time. Your employees will also appreciate a boss who understands what they are good at, and will most likely work harder because of that level of attention and respect.
Plan to Succeed
Time management, although not the most exciting of all topics, is one of the most crucial components of a successful virtual office. As you sip your caffeinated beverage of choice in the morning, take the time to arrange your day. A carefully planned workday with time for breaks means you can close your laptop at the end of the day knowing that everything is on track. Some find that breaking your day into portions of time and allotting them to various tasks works wonders. Others prefer to tackle the easy tasks early, leaving the rest of the day for the more laborious jobs. Whatever rhythm you are comfortable with is the one to choose. However, be sure that there is a plan in place and you stick to it.
Computers and the Internet have almost completely changed the way we live, play and do business. Our working day in particular has been greatly affected by technological advances, increasing productivity, changing the way we communicate and now even dictating our location. Being able to work at home is a luxury. Appreciate it, but be sure you maintain the same standards of quality you'd expect from a traditional office environment.