Setting Virtual Office Policies


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Setting Virtual Office Policies

One of the main functionalities of a virtual office is to allow local or mobile employees to telecommute to the office as and when is required. As great flexibility has been provided to employees, a set of office policies should also be developed to ensure that there is standardization of workflow within the organization, clear communication and understanding of employee responsibilities and at the same time allow you to have a set of guidelines for ease of management. This is in view of the fact that you as well as your employees will not be present at the office space most of the time, which is why the entire team should have a clear understanding of policies that have been drafted out. With this, disputes or misunderstandings will be less likely to happen, and the management would already have communicated their expectations to employees.

The following are some important areas in which policies should be developed:

- Work location – the base office location of the employees should be clearly stated. With this point, employees should be advised on where they can work and the frequency in which they need to report to the office space. They should also be provided with a set of information they can use, such as ID cards, in order to gain access to the virtual office.

- Work equipment – lists out the equipment that will be provided by the management, as well as the ownership of the equipment (notebooks, PDAs) that are provided. Clear policies should be stated on the responsibilities of the employees towards the work equipment and the value penalties incurred should the employees lose the equipment entrusted to them for their work.

- Software applications – A standard set of software applications should be used across the board and installed within all computers used by employees. These would include collaborative software as well as the compatibility of software used. Apart from that, clear communication should also be provided on the prohibition of unlicensed software applications in company owned equipment, failing which employees will be dismissed immediately.

- Server login procedures – As working at a virtual office involves employee logins from remote locations, a set of guidelines need to be drafted out on the login IDs used by employees, as well as the access or administrative rights of different users. This would help to ensure accountability in the event of mishaps to the company server or the company database.

- Time-sheet submission – With a system set-up for timely time-sheet submission, business owners will have a method for employees to report the time spent for their daily tasks and responsibilities. This will help employers ascertain the productivity of the employees, as well as to ensure that they are working on the projects or making the sales calls that they are supposed to. However, submission of time sheets is by no means a reflection of the actual results generated by each employee. This is why periodical reviews should be held to ensure that virtual office workers are on track in their work.

- Protocols for interactions with customers – In order to standardize communications procedures with clients within virtual offices, employers should develop a set of protocols to be adhered to when using email communications, greeting external clients in the virtual office as well as phone call courtesy guidelines. All of these protocols should match the corporate culture determined by the employer to ensure a consistent corporate image is projected to external parties.

- Working hours and email usage – Employees should be informed of the standard working hours within the virtual office, although they may sometimes work overtime, or even from their homes. Overtime rates, if practiced, should be communicated clearly in writing to virtual office employees. This is to avoid any incidence of disputes in employment hours and wages.

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