Online Office Tips is committed to helping your team to maximize their efforts and achieve maximum results. This commitment is demonstrated in our ever-evolving products. As further evidence of that commitment, we offer this Tips Section which is updated monthly. Each month you will find new ideas and suggestions that will allow your team to work together more effectively and to use's products to their fullest potential.

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This month's tip is…

How to get your team to use a virtual office

  1. Provide formal training.
    The best way to help team members to work effectively is to conduct a group training session where all virtual employees are introduced to the same set of work practices. This might be a two-hour live training or an online session. By training the team as a group, workers become comfortable about policing each other in proper virtual work habits. For example, if one of your cost-cutting work practices is to use instant messaging instead of phone calls for standard communication, team members can help each other adopt this habit by pointing out instances when a call was unnecessary.
  2. Provide training for's collaboration tools.
    We all know that employees are less likely to use work tools without training. Make sure that all virtual employees are formally trained in the proper use of online shared calendars, task-tracker modules, contact databases and other resources that will be accessed by multiple workers in multiple locations. Make sure training materials remain accessible so that existing users can refresh their skills and new team members can be brought up to speed quickly.
  3. Use the contact list.
    Ensure employees provide complete contact information for every person on the team so they can always reach each other. This way, if one person changes her contact information, everyone on the team knows about it immediately.
  4. Hold regular group meetings.
    It's easy to get lonely or lack initiative when you're working away from other team members. One way to avoid this problem is to regularly gather all staffers in a virtual session to review work progress. How often you plan these meetings depends on the nature of the work you're doing. If team members are working on projects that change daily, a weekly meeting may be needed. For slower moving targets, twice-monthly or monthly meetings may be enough, with smaller groups meeting more frequently. If possible, have these meetings in person every few months. Meeting face-to-face will build employee loyalty and help teams cement good working relationships.
  5. Ask for feedback.
    Productive remote work requires two-way communication. It's important to solicit feedback so employees can talk about what's working and what's not. When remote collaboration is new, you may want to talk to team members directly to solicit comments. After everyone is working comfortably, you might automate a feedback channel. For example, you could set up a bulletin board within the online virtual office devoted to feedback and assign a staff member to monitor it and distribute worthwhile comments. And of course you need to be sure you forward any feedback you feel is useful on to so we can continue to bring your team the product enhancements you want!