The virtual office idea came from a combination of technological innovation and the Information Age. It’s concept is an evolution of the executive suite, that posh area on the top floor of premier real estate where the CEO and other top company leaders have offices. However, the inflexibility and cost of an executive suite lease doesn’t work for many business models and helped spur the virtual office concept.

High End Office Rental Space

For example, Regus offers two virtual office space packages that offers services such as a “prestigious business address, local phone number and multi-lingual receptionist to handle your call and mail”.  Not to mention the necessary technology. For $399 a month, in Chicago’s John Hancock Center, you can rent 5 days of virtual office space complete with mail handling and a receptionist. Given the price of office rental in this part of Chicago, that sounds like quite a bargain.

The Home Office

If renting space is not your preference,  current technology allows you to conduct business from almost anywhere – in your home, car, in the airport, or at the beach. But for most, one’s virtual office is in their home. If working from home, you need to have a good setup. This includes a quiet location away from the distractions that being at home will always have. These include the refrigerator, TV, children, lawn work, dishes in the sink… you name it. It can be a distraction.

Cloud Computing

If you want to make working out of a home office work, you have to have discipline, and the right technology, to make your office a designated work space — even if it is in your bedroom or the kitchen. Put it in a place where you like to be. If your basement is dark and dreary, it’s likely you’re not going to enjoy working there. In order to be productive, use a space that will be most conducive to getting work done and one that will allow instant access to necessary work files. Cloud computing makes this possible.

As Chris Brogan said in his article on Mobile Productivity and the Future, storing one’s work in ‘The Cloud’ it is not only secure, but easy to access from different machines. According to the book, Cloud Computing for Dummies, cloud computing is “the means through which everything — from computing power to computing infrastructure, applications, business processes to personal collaboration — can be delivered to you as a service wherever and whenever you need”.

Virtual Meetings

Hand in hand with the virtual office comes the virtual meeting. In an article published in PC World, the author referenced several tools. For those that conduct frequent virtual meetings, GoToMeeting and WebEx were mentioned as some of the more reasonably priced tools. If you only need occasional conference services, FreeConference.com may be an option. But as we all know, nothing in life is free. Since no 800 lines are provided, participants pay the long-distance phone charge.

Do you work out of a virtual office? Share what’s worked and what hasn’t with your food and beverage colleagues below.

 

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