Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

Want the Secret to Increased Profitability and Employee Productivity?

Deploy Virtual Offices by Utilizing Your Company’s Existing Technology

Increased profitability and employee productivity is what we all strive for as business owners on a daily basis.  Simply put, this is what keeps us going, because if we stop there is a good chance our company we will not be around tomorrow.  There are many ways organizations attempt to achieve these objectives.  However; there is one in particular that’s gaining tremendous popularity among senior management teams of small to mid sized companies across the country.  Essentially, it is the deployment of virtual offices through the utilization of a company’s existing technology. That’s right! You can actually tap into a current and fixed asset to expand your business, improve the bottom line, have more productive and happier employees, and achieve a work/life balance.  This simple concept is rapidly changing the way organizations conduct business for the better.

What is a virtual office?

Basically, a virtual office fulfills all of the roles of the traditional, centralized office although the employees, also known as telecommuters, work at home offices either in a part or full-time capacity and collaborate for the most part electronically with other employees.  Virtual offices are a matter of degree since even in conventional offices many business relationships are maintained across distributed environments.  For instance, customers and suppliers are located at different sites, and project co-workers are often located in different divisions.  In both traditional and virtual office's the organization mission remains the same, but some business procedures change in the latter to accommodate collaboration at a distance.

What technology is needed to set up a virtual office?

In order to conduct business in this fashion, all that needs to be done is the integration of phone, computer, email, and fax.  Again, this is current technology that is already being utilized in-house.  The other items that a company may need to deploy to truly allow owners and employees to occasionally work offsite is a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).  The VPN enables employees to connect to a network remotely so they can access files on the LAN, while operating in a secure environment.  Furthermore, most cities have excellent wireless broadband coverage so individuals can connect to the Internet anytime, anywhere.

In regards to the telecommunications component, the recent advancements in VoIP are sweeping the globe because it enables people to speak through the Internet.  Unlike regular phone service, VoIP conversations are transformed into digital information and sent over a broadband data network.  For example, VoIP calls connect to a server where voice information is truncated into packets and sent across the Internet bypassing the long distance carrier altogether.  This essentially means that VoIP callers do not use traditional phone lines and can avoid expensive long-distance charges, dramatically impacting a company’s bottom line.

What are the benefits?

There are a number of extraordinary benefits that businesses can obtain by giving the owner, the management team, and other employees the ability to work virtually.  For example, dispersed sales teams are not so disconnected anymore.  They can tap into the network and communicate via email or by using a remote IP phone from any location.  A salesperson can connect through the VPN from their hotel room and they’ve instantly become their own virtual office.  In addition, servicing customers means being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. VoIP gives customer service representatives the advantage of answering calls at the office or at home.  This is critical because the world has become a significantly smaller place.  A customer with a big order in Korea will not find an answering machine as a sufficient means of service.  They want to speak to someone in real-time.  Finally, with VoIP, employees have one phone number with one extension and it doesn’t matter where they are geographically.  More importantly, the person on the other end has no idea of one’s location as long as they are receiving the services they desire.  Combining these technologies gives businesses the flexibility to provide an even higher level of customer service – all while reducing costs. As a result, consulting company, Gartner Group, estimates that employees who work offsite are as much as 40% more efficient than their colleagues in the office.

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