There were 34 million telecommuters in the US in 2009 and the expectation is that this number will increase significantly over the next decade.
With the increase in people working from home, and the creation of a “virtual office” environment, there is also an increase in the need for software designed for the virtual office.
There are several perceived and real benefits of an office environment versus working virtually.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the software that can be used to create an online virtual office and provide these same benefits of a real office space.
There are several free software tools that can be used for video chat as a way to replace face-to-face communication.
Skype has a video chat facility including a team video chat room that allows team members to chat for free over the Internet.
Oovoo is another paid option that claims to be higher quality than Skype.
There are also many web meeting and screen sharing technologies that can help members to see each others’ computer screen and so simulate being in the office together discussing and demonstrating something on the computer.
This technology can also be used by technical support staff to troubleshoot problems with another person’s PC, or provide trainings. These technologies include:
There are many online software tools designed to improve collaboration and help teams to communicate more effectively. These tools could greatly help in a virtual office environment.
Firstly there are project management tools such as:
A different approach is to try to use software that is similar to Twitter in that each team member posts their updates, and it appears as an activity stream. An example is Yammer.
It’s difficult to say which approach is best for you until you have tried them and see how it works in your company.
At the end of the day, one of the major reasons why companies maintain an office is to make sure that staff turn up to work each day and work a solid 8 hour work day.
In a virtual office environment it is difficult for managers to know if staff are really there, and know what they are actually working on. Are they working or just sitting in front of the television?
There are a few different approaches to this problem, but one of the issues is that employee monitoring software is usually not specifically designed for a virtual office environment. In fact this type of virtual office software is usually focused more on keystroke monitoring or other intrusive ways to monitor workers.
The problem with this strategy is that it is highly likely not to be accepted especially when a person is working from home using their own home computer. They certainly do not want to have everything they say and do monitored, and in fact it is illegal to do monitor in some jurisdictions, especially if private communications are monitored.
Time Doctor is software that is specifically designed for this purpose – managing a virtual team and making sure that managers knows what team members are working on. As a productivity monitoring software, it helps to make sure that all team members are working and will also help create a “virtual office” for your business. Here are some of its features:
Try Time Doctor and see how it is a great virtual office software solution. Using this software you can be sure that your team members will work just as if you had a real office.