Virtual Office Tools
Today, those with the necessary skill sets and employment experience are scattered across the globe, and virtual offices allow you to employ the right person for the right job, even if your head office is far from a particular talent pool. But managing remote offices and personnel requires a certain finesse not necessarily needed in a physical office. Thankfully, the cloud provides the structure and tools necessary to ensure fast communication and collaboration, reliable project management, and secure storage and operations.
Collaboration & Communication
Efficient business environments require regular, often real-time, communication, and various cloud-based software and app solutions make this possible. Organizations are able to go so far as archiving employee discussions for later reference via ‘chat rooms’ that make inter-office communication easy, and these solutions typically include mobile apps which let employees stay in touch wherever they are. A few solutions such as Convo, Flowdock, Slack, and Yammer provide basic versions at no cost, as well as a range of upgrades for purchase once you’re sold on their functionality.
Once the underlying communication system is in place collaboration is a lot simpler, but there’s a separate range of cloud tools designed specifically to enhance the cooperation of various virtual teammates. Allowing your workforce to collaborate on documents, presentations, code, and whatever else they might be teaming up on, cloud collaboration tools help prevent overlap while ensuring the job gets done. Hackpad and Evernote provide many document collaboration tools; Github stands as a fast and secure code receptacle and version control system; and XMind and MindMeister are some of the big players used for brainstorming ideas.
Depending on your preferred development method, a comprehensive collection of cloud-based project management tools are available, but a few of the major providers are Asana, Basecamp, Jira, and Trello. These tools allow the delegation of tasks and progress monitoring, and the primary interface typically acts as the command hub with projects listed and linked to associated tasks. Project managers can create teams, assign tasks, and set deadlines, and those involved in each project are then able to update their own progress and track that of other project members.
Storage & Security
It’s important to understand the difference between cloud storage and cloud backup, but ultimately, they’re both necessary tools. Storing files on the cloud provides access across remote offices, and both SpiderOak and TeamDrive offer encrypted cloud storage solutions – along with many, many others. Using a storage service that offers synchronization is a must, as these solutions ensure the most up-to-date versions of files are available to all connected devices. Backing up workstations is a separate, essential function allowing the storage of the contents of Multiple Devices in one account. IBackup, Carbonite, and Mozy are a few of the enterprise solutions with easy management for multiple devices, fast upload speeds, and a host of useful add-ons.
Finally, just as in physical offices, security is a necessary element that needs to be considered. Along with the obvious anti-virus software requirements and reliable and responsible service provider testing, password control needs to be implemented. LastPass, Dashlane, and KeyPass are password managers with business and team capabilities that help employees follow correct password protocol and keep your remote offices protected.
By Jennifer Klostermann