Photo by Britt Selvitelle (Flickr)
By Nathan Strum
Your company has just decided to adopt a virtual office and has basically sent you and your coworkers home for the work day. It takes a lot of getting used to in many respects. Not only will you have to change the way you do business, but you will also have to adjust to being on your own all day long. What changes when you go to a virtual office? How is your day different, and what can you do to adapt? You will find that your computer becomes your best friend when you work in the virtual office world.
Have Separate Business and Personal Accounts
The first thing you will have to get used to is doing almost all of your communicating over the Internet. The worst thing you can do is use your business accounts for your personal communication. It can be tempting to get into an email conversation with the coworker who used to sit next to you because that is how you two got through the day. But when you have a virtual office, you need to use business email for business communication and personal email for your personal conversations. This will allow you to keep those personal conversations going without having them interfering with your work.
Set Up a Good Working Environment at Home
The biggest adjustment you will have to make is going from working in a busy office to working at home. When that workday starts, you are used to chaos all around you as you try to get your job done. But when you work from home and everyone has left to go to school or work, the quiet in your house can be unnerving. Then, when everyone comes home for the day, the sudden noise can make work difficult.
Your best approach is to work in a room where you can close the door and not be affected by the sudden noise of children returning home from school. Create a work atmosphere that is comfortable to you and you will find that working from home is actually not such a bad deal after all.
Your new virtual office setup has all of the tools you had when you worked in the old office; you just need to learn how to find and use them. Instead of being intimidated by technology, you need to embrace it and spend some of your personal time getting used to the new virtual office setup. As a virtual office expert, I can assure you that a transition like this comes with plenty of training and manuals that you can refer to whenever you want. Use that information to explore the virtual office and learn to master it on your own terms. Once you embrace this new technology, you will find that it is very convenient and efficient.
What about your coworkers? What about the people you got used to seeing for 40 hours every week? Should a virtual office become the death knell for your office friendships? Absolutely not! You and your coworkers should arrange to get together once a week and talk about everything from the company to family matters. You should also consider using video conferencing to stay in touch with coworkers and get that face time that makes working for the company so enjoyable.
Transitioning to a virtual office is not easy, but it has several advantages. When I train companies on how to use a virtual office, I can see the concern on their faces. They are worried about how they will get their jobs done when they no longer have everything they perceive that they need within arm’s reach. But these are also the same people who send me emails six months later praising the virtual office and telling me what a great idea a virtual office is, even for interpersonal office friendships. Technology can be a wonderful thing if you give it a chance.