Move Your Office Online
By Varju Luceno, Global Office Partners
Many of us dream of a paperless office, where everything is organized, clutter is gone, and it takes only seconds to find the right file. Several companies are making efforts to step closer to fulfilling this dream. Striving for a paperless office will eventually increase the number of environmentally friendly businesses. Another way for a company to get more “green” is to hire virtual employees.
Companies that conduct business virtually, or offer their employees an option to work remotely help decrease traffic and air pollution as remote employees don’t have to travel the road as much as on-site employees. They don’t take up parking spaces and therefore indirectly don’t add stress to other people.
How do small business owners work virtually or from remote locations? Many small business owners don’t have corporate Intranets set up, but their employees need to access files from remote locations in order to finish a project or collaborate with other team members.
Anyone can set up a free online workspace for ongoing projects at bluetie.com. You can customize your workplace, upload your files, contacts, calendar, and create to-do lists. To sign up for the service, you need to provide your name, address and phone number, a credit card number is not required. A free account lets you have 20 users and as an administrator you can grant and deny access if necessary. With this service, you can access your online workspace from any place with an Internet connection. Don’t like the interface of BlueTie? There are other free options out there, such as Basecamp. With a free account, you can work on one project and give access to team members and clients. Customization is limited, but isn’t a workspace mainly for getting the job done? Still not satisfied? Try Wrike. It is built with the understanding that e-mail collaboration is crucial to completion of most projects. All members of your team get e-mail notifications about changes posted to your projects. I like their Timeline feature, it is easy to track the progress of any project. Wrike is perfect for marketing management projects. In need of more features? You can test drive WebEx Office by signing up for a free trial.
It is possible to send and receive faxes as well as make phone calls from your laptop when you sign up for RingCentral. A free trial is available.
GoTo Meeting is an excellent web-based application for conducting training sessions, webinars and online client meetings. A free trial is available. Pricing is reasonable, setup will take approximately 5 minutes. It is possible to record presentations and meetings for future use.
Need to schedule a conference call with several participants? Try Freeconference.com. Their “Web-Scheduled Standard” and “Reservationless Standard” conferencing services are free, but Toll-Free (800) Dial-in Numbers are not provided. Most callers should expect to dial a long distance number to access conference bridges and therefore should expect to pay domestic long distance rates charged by each caller’s long distance carrier for the length of time they are on the call.
Need to talk business face-to-face, wherever you are? Skype offers wonderful free videoconferencing services. Parties on the call need webcams and downloadable Skype software for successful communication.
QuickBooks Online Edition enables small business owners to switch to online bookkeeping. Once set up, owners can give access to their accountant, if needed. Furthermore, customers can be set up to pay for products and services online via PayPal and vendors may receive payment the same way.
Even shipping services can be web-based. Sign up and print shipping labels either using Stamps.com, usps.com, fedex.com or ups.com. Schedule a pickup and never leave your office.
Don’t let technology enslave you. Let it free you up to work wherever you would like.
Varju Luceno is the founder of Global Office Partners, a company providing virtual marketing support services for small businesses. She holds an undergraduate degree in Library Science and an MBA from the University of Montana in Missoula. She has more than 15 years of customer service experience in conjunction with her work as a reference librarian, banker, marketer, and small business owner. Her expertise also includes Internet research, graphic design, advanced research, and office management.