Virtual offices are becoming more and more popular as technology grows and allows them to become functional. Having employees and co-workers who live on completely different sides of the world is a common occurrence these days. This type of collaborative virtual office not only saves you from having to rent office space and equipment for your team, it also cuts commuting costs and provides a level of comfort for everyone involved by allowing employees to work from home or wherever they feel most inspired to work.
Here are five free tools that are essential to allowing virtual office’s to function and prosper by providing your employees or co-workers with the ability to communicate, collaborate and support each other even when they are thousands of miles away.
If there is one tool that is most important for running a virtual office, then it would have to be Google Apps. Google has set the standard for quality free services being offered to businesses. Gmail is one of the best and most trusted email clients, Google Calendar works as a great planner for all of your workers, and Google Docs gives your employees a full Office suite along with tons of storage space. All in all, Google Apps makes collaboration and coordination a breeze and is a must for any virtual office.
If you are looking for an instant messaging program to use when talking with your employees, Skype is probably the best option. You can chat via text with your co-workers and employees, but you can also talk to them and even do video conferencing. Skype also enables group chats for including everyone that can also be handled via text, audio or video. Skype is free and takes care of all your live communication needs.
CrossLoop is a great tool that can help you fix problems without having to outsource even further. For example, if one of your copywriters has a problem with their computer that one of your web developers might be able to solve, this remote desktop sharing solution enables you to let the expert in your team take control of whatever machine is having problems and fix the issue remotely.
Online file storage is very important for virtual collaboration and Dropbox has a proven track record as being one of the best free services in the business. Having a central location for storing files that several people within the virtual office might need at various times is very important. Dropbox gives you 2 GB of free storage per user and is very reliable.
This is one of the best free screen sharing applications available. It allows you to connect up to 25 team members at once and have them all share their screens. They can also work together on the same file, track all changes that have been made and transfer files between each other. It is an essential tool for virtual collaboration, and it is especially good to use for tutorial or training sessions.
With these five free tools, you will be well on your way to establishing a well-oiled and productive virtual office that will be able your workers to function efficiently and effectively despite never being in the same place at the same time.
About the Author:
Janice Blythe is a longtime contributor at Cometdocs. Her interests as a blogger include new media, technology and education, among other things.