Moving to a Remote or Virtual Office
Organizations are increasingly questioning the need for maintaining a bricks-and-mortar office. If your office doesn’t serve as a storefront for members, then you may be a candidate for a virtual office.
I recently attended the Shift which was hosted by Wicket, where the head of a large national association discussed how they vacated expensive office space in downtown Toronto, and their employees now work from home offices. Lease cost savings alone translated into an equivalent annual cost savings of $60 per association member and the move has benefited both the association and its employees.
What is driving the move to remote or virtual work?
The shift from having your team work in a brick-and-mortar office to working remotely is driven by several factors:
Access to talent. Working virtually means having access to a larger talent pool which is not limited by geography.
Closer proximity to your members. Employees of national organizations can be based across Canada and potentially reside closer to your regional members, in contrast to everyone being located at head office.
Enabling technology. Recent developments in cloud-based technologies facilitate effective communication between remote team members and boost their productivity. Examples of such technologies include:
- Videoconferencing (e.g. Zoom)
- Cloud-based productivity tools (Office 365 or G Suite)
- Cloud file storage
- VOIP telephone systems
- Cloud-based accounting and expense management (e.g. QBO, ReceiptBank)
- Electronic payment system (e.g. Telpay, Plooto)
Benefits of Working Remotely
There can be significant cost savings for the employer from transitioning to a virtual office, including the elimination of lease or rent payments, hydro, gas, insurance, cleaning, etc. Cost savings can be realized by employees in the form of reduced transportation costs including less gas, parking and insurance expenses. Many employees report that with their daily commute eliminated, they have increased productivity and quality of life. Time they previously took commuting can now be spent at the gym or on other activities.
How do I start?
Transitioning to a remote office requires careful planning and consideration. It is important to involve your team in the planning process and to develop strategies addressing concerns that arise. As things don’t always go as planned, it is wise to have a trial period with employees working from home part-time. This will provide an opportunity for staff to become comfortable using new technology, such as video-conferencing, before the final transition date. It will also help identify any potential workflow or communication issues, ensuring that customer or member satisfaction is maintained.
If you would like to learn more about moving to a virtual office, or you need help improving operating efficiency, reducing costs and strengthening your organization, please contact me at 613-727-1230 ext. 212 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard MacNeill, FCPA, FCMA, CMC, Dipl. T. is a partner at OTUS Group, a team of advisors to business, government and not-for-profit organizations.