For about 20 years, ecommerce has been a viable option for new retail businesses. Instead of sinking a significant portion of their budget into a location, entrepreneurs could open up an online shop, which kept their costs low and their customers happy. Ecommerce has been such a wild success – netting an estimated $400 billion in 2016 – that many entrepreneurs are wondering if they can do the same with their non-retail endeavors.
Office-free businesses are not only possible; they already exist. Even better, several B2Bs are providing business solutions for those entrepreneurs who don’t want to waste precious funding on a physical space. The following three business solutions allow any entrepreneur to establish a non-office business for a digital world.
Virtual Office Tech
Even 10 years ago, building a business without an office was close to impossible. Advancements in technology – particularly in regards to the cloud – now allow workers to complete nearly all business from anywhere and anytime, eliminating lengthy and tiresome commutes as well as other annoyances typical to office spaces. However, it is vital that you equip your remote team with all the digital tools they will need, or you will suffer from low productivity and poor performance even without an office.
The cloud is haven for office-less businesses. Using a variety of cloud-based services, you and your team can potentially accomplish every task, from accounting to product design to marketing. In the beginning, you will probably prefer to use available software-as-a-service (SaaS) that allows for project management, marketing tools, and tech support. Digital storage is also a must. However, it is vital that you confirm the security of your employees’ devices and dealings, so your business does not become the victim of a cyberattack.
As you might guess, reliable communications software is imperative for businesses that don’t physically corral employees; a service such as Cisco Spark, which is available through local Cisco partners, should provide all of your needs, including messaging, video conferencing, and more. Additionally, virtual office services will generate an address, phone number, and virtual assistant to provide reliable customer service options to your customers, who likely won’t ever realize you lack a physical center of operations.
Even amongst businesses that have physical headquarters, the workforce is becoming mobile. More than a third of workers believe they are more productive outside the typical office environment, and employers are listening by providing flexible work options. However, not every employee wants to or is capable of working outside the structure of an office, so it is imperative that you only hire workers fit for a remote job.
Aside from the hard skills you require for your business’s projects, your employees absolutely must be proficient with technology. As previously explained, working remotely requires operating software through a variety of devices, and because you will usually lack a physical meeting space, it will be difficult if not impossible to train new workers in using the various tech. Therefore, applicants who lack experience with tech – whom you can weed out using relevant tests – are likely not fit for positions at your company.
Additionally, it is vital that your workers already be equipped with hardware that can manage your necessary software. It is common in many modern offices for businesses to employ a BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy because it allows workers to customize their devices while saving the business money. As a mobile business, you should employ the same policies to avoid the costs of shipping out expensive, new tech to your scattered employees.
Though working remotely is generally more convenient, it is likely that there will be times when meeting in-person will be preferable to your typical digital communications. In these cases, it is useful to have access to co-working facilities, so you, your team, and your clients can communicate and collaborate without digital distractions.
Co-working facilities have the general look of office spaces – though they tend toward being more aesthetically pleasing – with plentiful desks, chairs, outlets, and other accoutrements necessary to get work done. As the popularity of mobile working increases, you are likely to find more co-working options in various cities. Usually, you pay for the time you use the space, but some co-working facilities allow monthly fees, so you can provide a physical headquarters for your workers if they wish it.