Fancy running a Fortune 500 company from your sofa? Or, at least, ditching the nine-to-five in favor of setting your own hours? Whether you are an entrepreneur or working remotely on a team project, the seemingly unlimited array of modern virtual office technologies available to the virtual contractor has made it easier and cheaper to work from anywhere. Whether you’re setting up an office space to individually serve clients or syncing up with a worldwide team, read on for a few essential tools to help run your at-home office.
These days, we IM, Tweet, InMail, update or text and like everything else in our multi-tasking realities, communication is quicker. But when you need to really delve into the complexities of a project, either with a client or a team of collaborators, email is still the go-to for written analysis and if this doesn’t get everyone on the same page, a face-to-face meeting can usually do the trick. While Facetime, Skype, and Google Hangouts jump to mind, webinar platforms like ClickWebinar and Webex are becoming increasingly popular.
Let’s face it: grabbing a still screen shot of the coding you’ve done so far doesn’t exactly cut it when it comes to collaboration. Instead, you’ll get the job done faster and quicker if you can take your colleagues on a tour through your day’s work. Screen sharing applications like Show My PC and Deskhop, which works via Facebook, allow team members to see each other’s computer screens, work on joint projects and transfer files. Features like whiteboard capabilities and multiple language options make it possible to expand your office or team to a true global reach.
If you need to get on board with others in your virtual office, sending group emails can often increase confusion rather than clarify direction. Instead, opt for an an online management tool like Basecamp, TeamBox or Asana, which is free for teams of up to fifteen people. Through these web-based services, you can set goals, assign tasks, send files, attach comments and create deadlines: all essential skills for managing projects and teams.
Did you know that it takes the average person almost a full half-an-hour to refocus on a task after being interrupted? And in this age of multi-tasking within the labyrinth of the Internet, who isn’t interrupted? Try one of a plethora of apps to get your head out of Facebook and track your (and your team members’) time : from Anti-Social to Toggl and beyond.
When it comes to getting paid, why waste time typing up an invoice and emailing it over? You’re not old-school in the work you do, so why would you be when billing for what you’re owed? Instead of using a primitive system based in Word, try a cloud-based solution. They range from simple like the appropriately named SimplyBill to top-rated mobile software HouseCall Pro which also offers scheduling and marketing features.