Are you ready to set up a virtual office?





The Office That Isnt

Send your staff home. Tell the landlord you wont be renewing the office lease. Set up your computer in the spare bedroom. You now have a virtual office, which exists only as a series of phone, fax and e-mail connections. But is this the right move for your firm, your employees and your clients? If so, have you made the necessary preparations?

Clients

Will you let your clients know about the changeif so, what details will you provide?

Will you maintain some sort of office for client meetings?

Will you be changing the type of clients you work with or services you offer?

Have you thought about which clients you might lose by this move or what clients you might gain?

Employees

Will you retain all your current employees?

Will employees now become independent contractorsif so, what rates will you pay?

How will you handle human resource issues, such as training, supervision, hiring and time and billing?

Home Offices

What equipment and furnishings will the firm supply, and what will staff provide for themselves?

What system will you have for file storage and retrieval?

Have you made a list of all expenses associated with running an office and determined who will pay them?

Will there be core working hours for everyone?

Will there be a policy for when and where work is to be done?

Technology

What computer and network setup will you need?

Who will provide computer support?

How will you manage upgrades?

What backup systems are available?

Will you mandate compatible systems?

Communications

What phone and voice mail system is best for your firm?

How should staff answer the phone to maintain a professional image?

Where will the firm receive its postal mail?

Will employees give their home addresses and phone numbers to clients?

How will e-mail be handled?

Zoning and Insurance

Are home offices or businesses allowed in your community?

Does everyones insurance cover home office equipment?

Source: Adapted from Creating a Virtual Office: Ten Case Studies for CPA Firms, by Anita Dennis, American Institute of CPAs. Copyright©1997.

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