Working From a “Coffee Shop” Office
It’s the age of the entrepreneur and the startup, where everyone has two offices – their home and a coffee shop. This is a double-edged sword – on the one hand, it’s easier to build a team of young jobseekers who believe in your vision, and it’s obviously cheaper. On the other hand, the amount of startups which quickly burn out has left a bad taste in many larger companies’ mouths. Many of these same companies could be your potential clients.
Startups’ Issues with Legitimacy & Collaboration
While you know how productive you and your small team are, there’s less proof to offer prospects. Investing in and maintaining an office can signify legitimacy, but you don’t need to have one. Plus, it’s far too expensive to just get an office for appearances.
This doesn’t just lead to issues with clients, but also with your team. How can you ensure productivity and collaboration when your team rarely is in the same place?
Using Cloud PBX to Signal Reliability to Prospects
When you’re in the mode of sparing every expense, it’s easy to look at things like solely using your existing smartphone as your business line as a way to minimize costs associated with additional phone lines. However, larger businesses look to work with companies that they think are stable, and if they discover that you don’t have an office before you’ve proven yourself a few times, that can remove this image. They may realize that they’re always talking to people on different cellphones that have no integration whatsoever. Cloud PBX, also known as Hosted Voice over internet Protocol (VoIP) can solve this problem in many ways:
- Plug & Play Phones: You pay for the service per line and can move your desk phones to any location with an Ethernet connection – you can even use the local internet and the service works the same. You and your employees can be in completely different locations, shops, homes, coworking spaces and more, and still maintain a consistent phone system experience for yourselves and clients.
- Mobile Softphone Application: Integrate service with an application on your existing smartphones so you can make calls from familiar numbers and maintain the caller ID they expect, along with any auto greeting systems. This also keeps employees efficient as they can keep their contact lists and data with them anywhere they go.
- Auto Greeter System: Just like the big companies, use an auto greeter with custom menus and options to direct calls. This does a lot to create the impression of a large organization--even if the organization is just you and a couple partners. There are tons of other cool features, too.
- Find Me and Follow Me: These systems allow calls to be made in an order or simultaneously between different desk phones and mobile phones, so you can ensure that a client call is never missed. Fewer missed calls mean a greater impression of your startup.
- Fax Numbers: A cellphone can’t do everything that is expected of a business. You still need a fax line, which is something that can be easily added on plug and play with a Cloud PBX. Not every business uses electronic signatures for documents, especially some of the old and big companies that you want to work with.
- Conferencing: Naturally, a three way call on a standard cellphone won’t cut it, but a proper crystal clear conference call phone hooked into a seamless hosted voice service will do the trick to maintain the impression of your legitimacy. Not to mention, it’ll just be a better experience for everyone anyway.
Using Office 365 to Improve Your Startup’s Workflow
That takes care of the major external problem of an officeless office – prospect and client trust. However, what about the internal issues? How can employees, who rarely see each other, collaborate effectively?
Office 365®, a cloud productivity application suite, easily handles that concern. Forget version concerns, lost documents and unclear timeframes. With Office 365, you can have:
- Online Collaboration: Office 365 allows installation on Macs®, PCs, and mobile devices--and it also provides online access. With this web application, multiple people can work on a Word, PowerPoint®, or Excel® document at once, and use a sidebar chat in the same window to discuss changes. That’s faster pitch decks and presentations with easy creative collaboration. In addition, oversights on spreadsheets won’t take days to fix.
- Monitoring and Control: Because you can see all people actively working on a shared document, and their changes are timestamped, you can judge who is working when they say they are. Take charge of one of the hardest parts of managing offsite employees.
- Document Version Control: Keeping track of countless documents emailed back and forth is a thing of the past. There should be one living document, and the latest version should always be the one on file. Don’t dig through folders and emails, or accidentally work on an old version of a document ever again.
- Cloud Backup Space: Why rely on employees to handle backing everything up? Don’t bother getting extra hard drives and sending memos--just let the online documents automatically back themselves up so you can have peace of mind--no matter what happens in your office. The servers that house your documents have countless failsafe measures and disaster recovery systems, and you can always save local copies on your computer if you want to be extra sure.
With a little cloud space, some sharable apps, and a few phones, you can transform the image of your startup from a bunch of kids squatting in coffee shops to a highly organized team of professionals, and manage them like they are too. See more ways that Cloud PBX and Office 365 can help your business succeed.
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