How to Set Up a Virtual Office

Many of us have a dream of being able to work at the end of a laptop without the bother of having to travel into an office each day. We envisage a life where we can start work by simply booting up our own computer or laptop, logging in and getting started. This situation has the potential to save us many hours of wasted time sitting in traffic or catching public transport and yes, we want the extra time so that we can do the things that matter most with our family and friends. This dream sounds achievable so what is holding you back?

Having been in the business of helping small business owners find the right virtual assistant for 3 years, the simplest answer that I can offer is that business owners and bosses just do not know enough about technology to visualise how it will work. They often think that they will loose control and that their employees will not spend the time working on what they should be doing.

However, the opposite is in fact true!

Virtual Assistants who work from home in their own office and offer admin, creative, web and marketing services to other small businesses, in fact, are much more accountable with their time. Each provide a detailed time sheet with their invoice at the end of the billing period, hold weekly meetings with their clients and generally ensure that the client is only billed for the time that they have spent on that client. I have seen numerous instances where the Virtual Assistant has clocked off, gone to make a cup of coffee, and then clocked on again when the coffee break is over. The same is true for toilet breaks or surfing the web for their own personal requirements.

How often, as an employee, have you done the same? My guess is never. In addition, having staff located in the one central office creates many situations that have to be managed on a daily basis which detracts from your managers ability to do what they should be doing – managing the development of the business.

Steps to help you set up a virtual office as an employee:

  • Speak to your IT people and make sure that they can give you direct access and that security will not be a problem.
  • Test your home equipment which should consist of an efficient and compatible computer system or laptop, fast speed internet connection, printer and scanner and a headset with a microphone.
  • Communication must be done easily with little effort so sign up for a “Skype” account so that you can communicate instantly if necessary.
  • Review the work that you do and your position description and identify any areas that may not be able to be done remotely. Investigate delegating these tasks to someone else who works on-site.
  • Convince your manager that you will be able to produce 50% more work at home rather than coming into the office each day.
  • Show your manager how it will work by creating a written business case that includes the technology that you will use to address the remote delivery of your service.
  • Set up a time management software package such as “Timestamp” or “myhours” and include a copy of the detailed report in your business case.
  • Set up an online meeting room through “” and practice using it so that you can attend team meetings. Provide an overview of the system at your next staff meeting and get people excited about the technology.

Taking the above steps to investigate the feasibility of working from your own virtual office will certainly create a buzz around your workplace. If you are successful in obtaining approval to do a trial, the bonus to your manager will be the extra time they obtain by moving to a management by objectives model. A decent reporting model will also help your Manager understand that he or she will not loose control; in fact, they will gain an extra level of control because of your preparedness to provide a detailed time/worksheet.

Be patient and address each barrier as it arises in a measured and professional manner. After all the benefits that you can gain are substantial and will only be awarded to those who show this level of maturity.

I have worked in my own virtual office for 3 years and they have been the best 3 years of my life. As Jonathan Swift said, “May you live all the days of your life!” (virtually)

Liz. Parker is the CEO of 121 Temps and VA Placements, she has been helping aspiring virtual assistants set up and run their own successful virtual office for 3 years. Liz. also provides a free recruitment service to clients who are looking at retaining a virtual assistant. All 300+ virtual assistants on the VA Placements database are bound by a code of conduct that is monitored by a professional standards panel.

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