With more and more businesses making room for a virtual workforce, many are considering that now’s the right time to completely change over to a virtual office, too.

The reasons are many including affordable leases compared to long-term rent for traditional office spaces, lowered utility bills, and more. In addition, more employees are opting to work remotely, making a traditional office a thing of the past. A virtual office offers more versatility, along with saving on traditional budget line items such as rent, office furniture & equipment, and more.

Is your company contemplating making the move to a virtual office? Would you like to leave the traditional brick and mortar workplace behind and develop a more flexible office setup? If so, then there are some issues you’ll need to consider before transitioning to a virtual office.

1). Research Virtual Office Providers

The first thing to do is research virtual office space providers. It’s a good idea to read online reviews of the various providers available in your area. And you can check with colleagues and business partners who may already be using virtual office services for their recommendations. Once you find a service provider, it’s also helpful to ask them for past and current client contact information, then check with each one to see if the provider was easy to work with or not, and more.

Then you’ll need to consider these issues:

  • Location: make sure the office is easily accessible for everyone who will need to work from the office. A central location, near important transport hubs and roads is the best.
  • Technology: next, the virtual office will need to have the technology you need to get work done. Decide what you’ll need ahead of time, and then use these criteria to find a virtual office provider who offers these services.
  • Conference or meeting rooms: will there be times when you’ll need to conduct a meeting, conference or other event? If so, then search for a virtual office that gives you access to a meeting or conference room. Depending on the lease, these services may be included, or it may be necessary to pay for them only when needed.
  • Lease: always look to see what the lease covers and what’s included in the monthly fee. For example, does the rent cover making unlimited copies, or is there a limit? Does the virtual office come with a business address, mailbox & package services? Always read through the lease to understand what’s included and what’s not included. Then look for any hidden fees and avoid those office providers that aren’t up front about their services and prices.

2). Do a Test Run

Before making the full transition to a virtual office, consider doing a test-run to see if this will be a good option for you. Office management providers offer flexible office solutions, which means they offer short-term contracts. That way, you won’t be trapped in a long-term commitment and will have the opportunity to see if the company is a good fit for a virtual office.

Flexible office spaces may be used as you see fit; you determine when and how to use the space. For example, it might be a good idea to first try the virtual office set up for a couple of months. You’ll have an opportunity to see how the services work to support the business, if employees work well, and see how business processes make the transition. All without having to make a full-time commitment. You can try before you rent.

3). Make a Plan

If you’ve decided the virtual office will work, then it’s a good idea to make a plan. Well before the move, it will be necessary to set up a plan to determine how the transition will work. This means a plan for all business operations to transition and what’s needed to make that change. Employees, clients and business partners will all need to be informed about the move. Here are some key points to let employees know:

  • Why the decision’s been made to change to a virtual office
  • Explain all benefits, logistics, and expectations of the move with everyone in the company
  • How the transition is going to work
  • How the virtual office will work (including methods of communication)
  • When the transition will be made

Next, you’ll need to see when the lease is up on your current office and inform the landlord of your plans to leave at the end of the lease. And it will be necessary to inform utilities about the move.

4). Get the Right Tools

In order to be successful, your team will need the right tools to get work done remotely. Communication is essential. There are many communication tools available such as Microsoft Teams (if you have a business subscription for Office 365, then this tool is available as part of the package), Slack, and more.

Next consider how business operations can make the move to the cloud. Cloud services are another essential for a virtual office setup. Depending on the type of business you have, it may be necessary to invest in a strong project management program, as well as other cloud tools.

5). Clearly Communication Expectations to Employees

Changing over to a virtual office environment can be challenging for some employees. So, it’s a good idea to clearly layout what the company expectations are with regards to working in a virtual environment.  For example, help employees know and understand the company goals. Work with employees to help them understand how they can accomplish these goals in the new working environment.

It may be necessary to layout expectations about working hours, workload, participation in regular virtual meetings and more. It’s also a good idea to discuss how employees need to avoid working around the clock in order to avoid burnout.

Moving to a virtual office may be the best move for your company; however, it’s essential to do the research, run a trial period, and then have a plan on how to successfully make the move. Having a plan can help your company make the transition smoother and easier for everyone on the team.