When you have a business and maintaining a minimal number of employees who are willing to work virtually from the comfort of their homes, you will need a virtual office. To keep your business expenses down you are looking for a web-based or a virtual office that you can use for free until such time that you can afford to maintain your own website or your company has grown bigger and requires an onsite office. Many startup businesses are exploring the idea of a virtual office as this make a huge cut on unnecessary expenses while maintaining constant contact and communication will all employees who may be located in different parts of the country or the world.
These online collaboration tools are free or come with minimal cost. Maintaining a virtual office can be set up easily, using some of the applications that are available for free and some that you may actually be using already. Take a look at the ideas below on how to have a web-based or virtual office for free.
- Consider using Google Apps. This is a suite of collaboration tools that are made available for free for those people who are maintaining a virtual office. It includes Google Docs, which is comprised of a word processing application, a spreadsheet, calendar, and even a photo editor. Also built in is GMail, which is a web-based email client, instant messaging called Google Talk. Google Apps also provide plenty of online storage space for data storage and file transfers.
- All you need to do is sign up for a Google account. Create a user name, which is usually your GMail account and password. Go to Google.com and click on the drop down menu on top of the page that says “more” and then click on ‘even more”. This will bring you to the next page, which shows the selection of Google products. Under the Communicate, show and share heading on the right you will see the link for Docs. Follow the easy to understand prompts to set up your own virtual office.
- If you like to use the phone to make contact with your staff rather than using email and instant messaging, you can make PC to PC calls for free using your Yahoo Messenger account or get your team to download their own free copy of Skype. Skype allows you to make free calls anywhere in the world as long as the person on the other side also has Skype installed on their computer and they have internet connection.
- If you need more data storage you can check out Box.net. They have a free version, which will provide you with 1 GB of free online storage space.
- If you have an IT person in your team and some team members require technical support for problems with their hardware, it can also be done virtually with the help of free software. You can download a free version of Team Viewer or CrossLoop. This will allow the IT person to take charge of a team member’s computer and repair it. This screen sharing application can also allow for team collaboration by sharing their desktop monitors, and work on the same document or project as a team and transfer and share files. Each application has a required number of persons who can participate in the collaboration at one time.
- You can also conduct online conferences with as many team members as needed by using the function from Yahoo Messenger. You just need to log on to your account, create a conference room and invite all the participants and start your meeting, either by voice or by instant messaging.
It is very easy to set up a web-based or free virtual office. All you need is to look for the right applications available for free and download and install them.