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Virtual offices are becoming increasingly popular as people struggle to manage their work/home life balance by telecommuting. Freelancers also often require virtual offices because they sometimes need to work from a remote location. In order to have a truly productive virtual office, you need to replicate the convenience of your home or work office, but make it mobile.

Email

Most people prefer to send quick emails rather than make phone calls. For your virtual office, you consider a cloud-based email service such as Gmail or Microsoft Office 365. Even if you have a domain-specific email address, forward that address to Gmail and vice versa. With Microsoft Office 365, you can set-up an email address with your own domain that is stored online. The biggest advantage of cloud-based email is that you can access your email from any computer with Internet access. Many mobile phones also support email access. Additionally, all emails are stored on the company’s servers so you do not have to worry about any.

Access to Files

You need to be able to access important work related files. Unless you work for a company that has a virtual private network (VPN) or some kind of remote access system, you need a cloud-based storage system like Sugar Sync to be able access your work. Online storage providers like Sugar Sync allow you to access your documents from any computer through a web-based account system. Many will also synchronize the files to one or more computers so that you can keep your documents organized.

Faxing

Most people do not have a dedicated fax line in their home office, so they use their landline for both. This can become tedious because you have to know when a fax is coming in before you can turn the fax system on. The better option is to sign up with an online fax service that allows you to send and receive faxes via the Internet. There is a wide variety of options out there, but you want to find a solution that is completely Internet/email based so that you have access to your faxes from anywhere.

Messaging

Sometimes you just need to have a conversation with someone to get things done, but talking on your phone and trying to multi-task on your PC can be a hassle. The best way to solve this communication program is to use an instant messaging program like Yahoo! IM or AOL Instant Messenger. For people who need more advanced options like full video conferencing, many people use Skype. With Skype, or a similar program, you have full visual and audio communication with your colleagues and even hold virtual meetings.

Task Management

Even the best of us occasionally forget things and a hardcopy appointment book is only as useful as how often you check it. It is a good idea to use a virtual calendar program like Google Calendar or Microsoft Office 365 to remind yourself of important meetings, deadlines, and tasks. Ideally, web solution that works with your mobile phone is ideal so that you can get emails while you are on the go.

There is a reason people talk about how hot cloud computing is right now. The ability to do so many things over the Internet is changing the business landscape. Employees and freelancers have access to many free to low-cost software solutions online that allow them to be just as productive as they are sitting in front of their desks, yet they can work at a soccer game, while taking care of a sick relative or while traveling. Whatever your needs are, it is easy to find ways to make your virtual office more productive.

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Posted by Bryon Hettrick

Bryon Hettrick is a virtual office manager who enjoys looking for and experimenting with the newest innovations for his business. He can always be found testing a new product or gadget - especially virtual sites and opportunities!

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