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Is the Virtual Office Right for Your Company?

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Is it time for your company to ditch the office? Just like many companies are embracing technology to go paperless, some organizations are forgoing the morning commute in favor of a virtual workplace.

Of course, going virtual isn’t as easy as trading in your business suits for sweatpants. There’s plenty to do to hire the right people, keep everyone motivated and ensure your workplace can fly digitally: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Know the benefits of ditching the office

“If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” This saying is one we’re all intimately familiar with. Before you jump to a virtual workplace because it seems like the trendy thing to do, stop and think about the reasons you’re making the switch.

Do you have smart reasons to switch or are you just trying to shake up your company culture? It’s a dramatic change, so you should be 100 percent sure it’s the right thing for your company.

Of course, there are dramatic reasons to consider jumping in with both feet. A study by Stanford University found companies can save as much as $2,000 per employee just by letting them work from home.

And if this cost savings isn’t enough for you, the virtual workplace is a real draw for top-notch candidates craving flexibility. In fact, two in five working adults would be willing to give up a portion of their salary if it meant greater flexible time options.

2. Put a plan in place

Once you’ve decided the virtual workplace really is the best way forward for your company, it’s time to put a plan of action in place. There are some big changes that come along with a digital environment, and those changes don’t just involve jettisoning the cubicle. Hammer out a workable transition plan for how your company gets projects accomplished and how employees will collaborate on important work.

Keep in constant contact with your team and be available to answer any questions your employees may have. Concerns should be heard and tackled before you do away with the office, so your virtual workplace can start from a position of understanding instead of confusion.

3. Hire great virtual workers

The best virtual employees have a lot in common with the best people currently sitting in your office: They’re smart, they’re dedicated, they’re creative and they’re always willing to go the extra mile. But virtual employees need to also have a few extra attributes to make them perfect for the digital environment.

Two of the most important attributes are tech-savvy and self-direction. After all, these employees need to use technology to connect and collaborate and also be motivated enough to do work instead of cleaning the house.

To find the best virtual workers, you have to connect personally and ask the right questions. The video interview is a smart tool for connecting with the best candidates, even if they’re located more than a car ride away.

During the video interview, it’s important you ask the right questions to ensure you’re getting the best people. Skip the boilerplate interview questions and instead ask behavioral questions to tell you more about the candidate’s personality and work experience. Asking questions about how they’ve handled their biggest mistake, their biggest professional triumph or how they work as part of a team can give you essential insight into their ability to work remotely and as part of your company culture.

4. Track workflow

Without being able to peek over your employee’s shoulder or run over to the next office to keep tabs on a special project, you’ll need a virtual solution. It’s important to choose a workflow-tracking plan that works for the specifics of your company. Try to find a digital solution that allows people to keep you updated on the status of projects and how their work is progressing.

You might also want to find internal storage for sharing important company files and essential documents to get new employees up to speed. As a bonus, by encouraging people to track their time and efforts, you’ll be empowering them to take ownership of their workflow.

5. Never stop communicating

Communication should always be continuous, but it’s even more important since you no longer share a physical workspace with your best people. Make sure you’re taking time aside to communicate clearly and efficiently with your whole team.

Set aside time for meetings and always make yourself available if a team member has a comment or question about how things are done. You can use online chat functions and email to stay in contact, so your best people still feel like they’re part of a well-defined company culture instead of left to their own devices.

Ditching your physical office for a virtual reality isn’t always easy, but it can be the right choice for your company. As long as you hire and motivate the best people, you’ll never regret your choice to go digital.

What do you think? What are some tips you have for embracing the virtual workplace? Share in the comments!

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video interview solution used by more than 2,000 companies across the globe. Learn more about using video interviewing to hire virtual talent and connect with Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

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