A SBO guide to going virtual

How small businesses go from brick to virtual

It's difficult to highlight any positives of the recent pandemic. However, if one exists in the business world, it's the virtual infrastructure that was built on the fly to allow companies to make the shift away from traditional brick and mortar operations.

If you've been on the fence about a permanent shift in the virtual direction, this is your time to shine.

The benefits of going virtual

Going virtual — which is basically the term used to describe giving up a brick and mortar office and running your entire business through digital mediums like Zoom, email, and the cloud — boasts a number of distinct benefits, including:

  • Lower overhead costs. Virtual organizations can often save as much as 50 to 75 percent on their overhead. This can result in significant savings over a long period of time.
  • Access to a broader talent pool. When you run your business out of a physical location, you're limited to hiring people who live locally (or are willing to move to your city). When you go virtual, suddenly the entire world is your playground. This gives you access to a much broader talent pool.
  • More productivity. When employees work from home, they don't have to spend time commuting to and from work. Instead, they can just focus on working. This makes them more productive and improves company-wide output.
  • Higher satisfaction. Employees who work from home are 22 percent happier than workers who are required to go into an office. These remote workers report better focus, less stress, and superior work-life balance.
  • Greater scalability. It's much easier for a virtual business to scale. Because unlike a brick and mortar company that has to move offices and swap out a bunch of physical infrastructure, a digital company just clicks a few buttons and expands its digital infrastructure to accommodate.

3 tips for making the shift to virtual

Making the shift to virtual does require some intentional planning and execution. Here are several tips to streamline the process and get better results:

Digitize Cumbersome Processes

The first step is to digitize all of those cumbersome processes that are holding you back/will hold you back once you go virtual.

Signing documents is one paper process that comes to mind. If you're going virtual, you have to adopt an electronic signature platform to allow for secure and compliant contracts and approvals. Box E-Signature is a great option. Their native integration makes it easy to sign and store documents in the cloud.

Prioritize Communication

If your team is accustomed to working in the same physical office, there will be some growing pains when going virtual. Suddenly, you can't just walk down the hallway and call people into a meeting room. Sharing feedback and communicating directives requires a much more intentional approach.

Good communication practices will prevent misunderstandings, promote better workflows, and help your team feel valued and connected. For starters, avoid email for internal collaboration. Instead, use a chat application (like Slack) and/or a social intranet platform. You'll also need to create simple feedback loops that make it easy for people to give and receive constructive criticism on projects and deliverables.

Build a digital presence

Hopefully, you already have some degree of a digital presence. However, once you go virtual, this has to be a huge point of emphasis. When people search your company name, they should find you easily. Not only that, but the content, visuals, and information they find needs to be consistent.

When building a digital presence, content is king. Everyone on your team should turn into mini content creators. Blog posts, social media posts, website content, videos, podcasts, emails — everything is on the table. Pick a couple of areas to focus on and pursue them first. Once you gain traction, you can expand into other areas. Just remember that consistency is the key! Inconsistent branding will hurt your business and have diminishing effects.

Modernize your business

Most people think that virtualizing their business is all about saving money. And while cutting costs is certainly one big benefit, it's clearly not the only one. Whether it's productivity, security, or access to better talent, going virtual affords you a host of enticing perks. But you can't wait much longer. At some point, you'll get left behind. Now's the time to modernize.

Ignore this advice at your own risk.

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Author`s name Alex Sanders
Editor Dmitry Sudakov