Today we’re hearing from one of Hoxton Mix’s long term clients. Karl is founder/owner at infiniforms.io and here, shares his tips on escaping the physical office in preference for a distributed workforce. Say hi to Karl on Twitter at @karlgjertsen. When you get to the end of the article look out for Karl’s free e-book which will help you organize your business and improve the way you communicate with your team and clients. Over to Karl…
The world has changed
For generations a major part of running a business was commuting to a physical office space. The office was the hub of a business’s operations. Even companies with several locations across the country or around the world relied on a hub-and-spoke model of physical offices. But, the world has changed and the need to have a physical office is as old fashioned as the typewriters that used to fill those physical offices.
Redefining the Workplace
With the right tools, many businesses don’t need a physical office space for much of anything. Web apps and productivity tools keep remote teams connected. Combinations of employees and freelancers from around the world can produce amazing work, quickly, and cheaply, without ever even being in the same room.
The web is the modern workplace. People are happier and more productive working in their homes and cafes instead of enduring a gruelling commute to a downtown office every day. This arrangement is also more efficient. Commutes waste time. Offices are expensive to lease and maintain. The logistics of having even a small team in a physical office often requires additional expenditures for things like human resources and IT departments. Operating without a physical office space frees you from being chained to a location and frees companies from a variety of fixed costs.
Temporary Physical Spaces and Virtual Office
Sometimes you need access to a physical space, but not on a full-time basis. A company may need a professional place to meet a client or potential investor. A company may also need a physical address for postal deliveries. Having a virtual office gives a company all of the benefits of a physical office, but at a fraction of the cost.
A virtual office will have mail forwarding, receptionist service, and offices and meeting rooms that can be rented on an as needed basis. This means a business is only paying for the services it uses. No rent is wasted on empty cubicles or unused conference rooms.
Tools for Teams and Distributed Workers
Effectively running a business with distributed workers has never been easier. If you don’t want to be tied down by the limitations of a permanent physical space, you need to adopt the following six tools. With these tools you will never find yourself wishing you had an old-fashioned workplace.
Hoxton Mix gives you access to the best virtual office in London. You can get a prestigious address in London’s tech-hub without having to pay sky-high rental rates. You can also rent meeting rooms, or even just a desk, as needed. This virtual office also provides professional reception services and mail forwarding. You can even get an outside line with a 020 prefix. Hoxton Mix means that now anyone can have a business in the heart of Tech City on almost any budget.
Trello is the ultimate app for brainstorming and collaborating on major projects. Trello is a digital corkboard. You create digital cards and place them on digital boards. These cards can have everything from checklists, images, file attachments, to notes on them. The cards can easily be moved around. You can create as many levels of lists as you need to stay on top of a project. Trello is designed for multiple people to have access to boards. You can now storyboard your next project and get input from all the stakeholders, no matter where everyone lives and works.
Slack is the best communication tool since email. Once you start using this messaging app, you will realise that Slack makes email obsolete. With Slack you can create channels where everyone who is involved on a project can see the latest updates. You can also create private channels for communicating with a small select group of people. Slack lets you have private direct message communications between any users. You can have as many channels as you need. You may want a companywide channel and a separate channel for each major department or client. It’s up to you. Slack also integrates with hundreds of other apps such as Google hangouts and Google Docs.
Todoist is the perfect digital version of a pen and paper to do list. The app has a clean and simple design. The goal is to help you get more done. You are not bombarded with features you never use. The best part of Todoist is that it automatically syncs wherever you are already working. It is available as a web app, IOS app, and Android App. There are versions for Windows, Mac, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and even email integration. You always have your current to do list with you. Todoist even lets you share your list with a collaborator.
Dropbox is a cloud based file storage tool that also works to automatically backup your most important documents. Do you still email documents or images back and forth? Stop. With Dropbox you never have to worry about which version of a document you are seeing. Everything is synced with the cloud. You can pull up the latest version on your laptop, smart phone, or desktop. If you need input from someone you can send them a link to the document or create a shared folder and decide who gets access. You can also have Dropbox automatically sync the images from your phone to the cloud.
Infiniforms (that’s me btw!) makes collecting the data and information your business needs easy. You can create an unlimited number of web forms without needing to know a single line of code. Imagine creating the perfect survey to email out to your clients in minutes, without having to wait for a developer. Infiniforms uses a simple drag and drop interface for form creation. You can then embed the forms on your website or send a link to the forms to your mailing list. Infiniforms has an easy to use dashboard that lets you easily access all the data about and from your forms.
If you want to succeed in the modern world you need a lean and efficient operation. The offices of previous generations are quickly disappearing as start-ups and companies of all sizes realise the power of the using distributed workers and virtual offices. Now is the time to ditch the physical office and make the web your workspace!
If you’re interested in how to use the right tools to run your business with a distributed team download our guide to the tools that will help you do it!