Thanks to recent advances in virtual technology, it has never been easier to run a business from a location other than where you’re currently located. Considering we’re living in the fast-paced 21st century, businesses need to be able to extend their reach to remain competitive and on-the-go. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common virtual tools for working remotely.
Online collaboration platforms
If you’re working remotely, then you’re probably already familiar with a variety of online collaboration platforms. These include Slack, Wire, Onehub, Teamwork, Trello, Airtable, and many others. What these and many other online collaboration platforms have in common is that they allow you to work on projects in the same ways you would in a traditional office environment without being in the same room (or side of the globe for that matter). Delegating projects, communicating with staff and contractors via chat and video, version-controlling projects, organizing workflow — the list goes on when it comes to the capabilities of online collaboration software.
The trick, however, is to find a platform where your business’ needs are met and communication is trouble-free. There isn’t one solution that fits every business model. Experiment with different platforms and consider how your team would work best with each platform. For instance, Trello allows you to assign projects with a card system (good for tracking and visualizing long-term projects); Slack lets you communicate with its intuitive messaging system (great for holding team meetings). Not every business model needs to operate with a fully-integrated system; then again, larger enterprises need as many options as possible to blend into their complicated workflow.
There’s a saying among computer scientists: “If data isn’t stored in at least two locations, it doesn’t exist.” Because your remote business works virtually, it makes sense to have a central database where your files are stored. Cloud storage can be used as a way of backing up your data or providing access should a mishap occur (i.e. natural disaster, political turmoil, hacks). It also allows key employees to have access to important documents when needed so they can carry out mission-critical tasks, such as training new employees, providing sales documents and data to prospective customers, creating work logs, and other activities.
Popular cloud storage services include Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Box, Amazon Drive, BT Cloud, and many more. Many of these services are free to start with and come with their own set of interfaces, usages, and advanced features. However, these advanced features, including larger amounts of storage, are typically not free. Therefore, it helps to explore each of them in detail to find out whether there’s a pricing tier that you’re comfortable with. For instance, Dropbox offers free service with 2 GB of storage for its Basic plan; for Dropbox’s Plus and Professional packages, businesses get 1 TB (1,024 GB) of storage plus a host of features that can optimize your virtual office and remote-working capabilities.
Virtual phone numbers
Virtual phone numbers work by routing calls from one phone number to a destination phone number. This is an instantaneous process — thanks to cloud computing’s recent contributions to telecommunications, particularly VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). What this means for working virtually is that you can communicate instantaneously with anyone around the world without obstacles.
For instance, if you had a number of clients and staff in Dubai, you could use Dubai virtual phone numbers to allow those individuals to call you without incurring a long distance fee or being blocked by their service provider. Similarly, virtual phone numbers come in a variety of types, including ITFS numbers, or “International Toll Free Service numbers.” In layman’s terms, these are simply toll free numbers that correspond to a particular country. You can use these ITFS numbers to give your remote work a professional sheen and authenticity, while also opening up lines of communication so those you speak to can do so without incurring a cost (the subscriber instead foots the bill).