7 Tools To Build Your Virtual Office

There isn’t much need to own office equipment and rent space these days if you take advantage of the many cloud-based productivity tools available. Sole proprietors and even small businesses with employees can operate as virtual, distributed, mobile enterprises. Here are seven tools that can set you free…

Who Needs an Office?

Webmail frees you from desktop email clients such as Outlook, Thunderbird, and Eudora. And if you’re free from desktop email, you’re free from your desktop as well. If you can find a Web browser, you can access all of your email while traveling outside your office.
Google’s Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Microsoft’s Outlook.com, and even AOL Mail are options. Domain hosting services often provide Webmail service too, so you can have email addresses that use your own domain name. You don’t have to manage spam filters, or worry about running out of disk space for archived mail.
Cloud storage services also save you disk space, and make every digital thing you create available from any Web browser. Microsoft OneDrive gives you 15 GB of storage space free and it can be used with MS Office 365, the cloud-based version of MS Office. Google Drive also provides 15 GB free, and its Google Docs productivity suite produces documents that are reasonably compatible with Office. Then there’s Dropbox, Carbonite, and a slew of other cloud storage services. (See Eight Free Cloud Services You Should Know About) You’ll never again forget to bring important files on a business trip or a client visit, and you won’t have to use CDs or USB flash drives which are vulnerable to loss or theft.
Virtual Office Tools
A PBX system is unnecessary if you have Google Voice. It gives you a phone number that can be linked to any phone, so you’ll never need to port numbers again. Free phone calls within the U. S. and Canada are possible from your phone or PC; international rates are highly competitive. Voicemail can be forwarded to your email inbox; you can listen to it or read the (sometimes hilarious but still mostly understandable) speech-to-text translation. Conference calls and video calls are available, too.
Free online photo editors can handle many graphic design jobs right in your Web browser, without the disk bloat or expense of Photoshop. Online editors such as FotoFlexer or Pixlr let you pull images from Facebook, Picasa, your own cloud storage, and many other online sources.
Online meeting and conference calling tools take the tedious, disease-spreading face-to-face contact out of doing business. They’re also good for the environment because no one has to burn fossil fuels to get to a meeting. Best of all, you don’t need to rent space or furniture for meetings! (And you can even wear your polka-dot shorts if the webcam is properly aimed.) Most online meeting services offer free samples for small groups, and charge up to a few hundred per month for large, frequent meetings.
Remote access software allows you to access your office desktop PC, or use the laptop you forgot at home without going home to get it. It also lets you see what clients see on their screens, follow each action they take, and identify with certainty what they’re doing wrong. You can even take over control of a client’s machine and show them how to do it right, or fix what has been messed up. Sharing a presentation on your computer’s screen with one or more remote partners is another application of remote access software.
Finally, you can leave home without your passwords. Cloud-based password managers such as Roboform or Lastpass store all of your many passwords in the cloud, making them accessible to you via any browser-enabled device. Some password managers are free, others charge up to $20 a year. Not all password managers support smartphones and tablets.
Given all of these tools, and remote printing services such as FedEx Office, you may well be able to operate entirely without a physical, traditional office. At the very least, you’ll have the freedom to do business when and where you want, without being tied to one computer in a specific location.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…


More Posts about Productivity:

  • 400 Free Tools For Business Building

  • Mobile Scanning for Fun and Profit

  • 7 Tools To Build Your Virtual Office

  • Google Drive for Work vs MS OneDrive for Business

  • Tame Your Paperwork With a Scanner

Comments

  1. Bob … Some great suggestions. I happen to love “Remote Access Software” and my personal favorite of them all is … TeamViewer!!!
    I love that you can connect to another computer, with permission, and fix that computer or simply access information from it. Team Viewer is FREE for personal use and I would say, if, you are a small business owner, Team Viewer could be used in the FREE version.
    The Business Version for Team Viewer is for multiple computers that need to intact, with each other or the IT Team needs to have access to one of the computers, in the whole group, to repair them or update them.
    So, my thinking is … Many small business owners, only have one or two computers, for their business. Usually a Desktop and a Laptop. The Laptop to be used for, mainly flexibility and portability. It easy for the Laptop to go on a trip or go home and then the main computer, the Desktop, can be accessed when ever, it is needed. Team Viewer can easily do that for you, FREE, when you use the personal version. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be any difference from the FREE version or the Business version, except just how many computers, will be involved, as I can see it.
    Please, experienced Business owners with Websites, comment with your insight and experience, so that new business owners can learn, from you as well, as Bob. 🙂

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